This is a sweet story...actually the title kind of sums it up. It's a bittersweet read. I have really come to love historical fiction, so I did enjoy the story. Is it one that you are going to line up to read? Probably not, but I also don't think you would regret it if you did. Especially if you like #1) historical fiction and #2) books set during WWII. This one is set in America though and you get some perspective on the Japanese Americans during that time. Makes you think!
Summary from goodreads.com:
In the opening pages of Jamie Ford's stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,
Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once
the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades,
but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings
of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to
internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens
a Japanese parasol.
This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to
the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry's world is a
jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed
with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While
"scholarshipping" at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white
kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American
student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and
Keiko forge a bond of friendship - and innocent love - that transcends
the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after
Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment
camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end,
and that their promise to each other will be kept.
Forty years later,
Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel's
dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family's
belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to
measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice - words
that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that
might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son;
words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.
Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and
Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches
us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.