Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Title: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Author: Jamie Ford
Publication Date: 1/27/09
Pages: 290
Genre: Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: I think my mom recommended it to me quite a while ago.
Date Completed: 6/6/16

Summary: A young Chinese boy in Seattle gets caught up in history when he befriends a young Japanese-American girl just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

What I Thought: This was a charming book. It deals with tough issues - racism, xenophobia, family dynamics - but does so in a way that makes them feel slightly less scary. Not less serious, just less frightening, particularly from a child's perspective.

Watching Henry navigate WWII-era Seattle feels all too familiar. A similar story could easily be told of a young Muslim American or Mexican American today. Still, as he and Keiko strive to overcome the fears and failures of their communities, they are a testament to the open eyes and arms of children. 

I liked that the story of Henry as a boy alternated with the story of Henry as a grown man, decades later. Normally, this is a plot technique that I do not enjoy, but Ford really made it work here. I also liked the integration of jazz throughout the story. 

Perhaps it is a bit sacchrine, as one Goodreads reviewer suggests. After all, the Japanese internment is a dark mark on American history and Ford easily could have doused the story with more gravity. Yet, I liked that things never dove too far into the dark. The friendship between Henry and Keiko kept a continually ray of hope shining throughout the story.

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: No, but I'm going to mention it to students

A Reduced Review: Set during a dark point in American history, this story of multi-cultural friendship during WWII was sweet and hopeful.

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