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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet [Kindle Edition]

Jamie Ford
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (233 customer reviews)

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Book Description

‘You just gave me hope, Henry. And sometimes hope is enough to get you through anything’

1986, The Panama Hotel

The old Seattle landmark has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made a startling discovery in the basement: personal belongings stored away by Japanese families sent to interment camps during the Second World War. Among the fascinated crowd gathering outside the hotel, stands Henry Lee, and, as the owner unfurls a distinctive parasol, he is flooded by memories of his childhood. He wonders if by some miracle, in amongst the boxes of dusty treasures, lies a link to the Okabe family, and the girl he lost his young heart to, so many years ago.

With over a million copies sold worldwide, this captivating debut is a story of the sacrifices one boy makes for love and for his country.

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Product Description


'Ford deftly pulls off a Hollywood-worthy romance, one anchored to a true event. An entertaining and often illuminating tale' THE SPECATOR. 'Mesmerizing and evocative...a tale of conflicted loyalties and devotion' Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of WATER FOR ELEPHANTS. 'An impressive, bitter, and sweet debut' Lisa See, bestselling author of SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN. 'Engrossing...A really good, genuinely heartfelt novel... I think I have fallen a little in love with it' Dovegreyreader. 'Four stars - recommended' Psychologies magazine. 'I can see readily why people are raving about this book...The characterisation is second-to-none, the story is intriguing... A well-told story that it sets itself apart. It's AWESOMELY GOOD!' 'Wonderfully written, beautifully evocative' Random Things Through My Letterbox


'Ford deftly pulls off a Hollywood-worthy romance from the files, one anchored to a true event. An entertaining and often illuminating tale' THE SPECATOR

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 920 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345505336
  • Publisher: Allison & Busby (28 April 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749009195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749009199
  • ASIN: B006WB7GXA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (233 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,988 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Jamie Ford is the great grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated from China to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the western name 'Ford', thus confusing countless generations. Ford's debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a New York Times bestseller, and has been awarded the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. It has been translated into twenty-nine languages. Having grown up near Seattle's Chinatown, Ford now lives in Montana with his wife and children.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad, heartwarming, bitter and sweet 10 July 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet tells the story of a young Chinese-American boy, Henry Lee, and his lifelong love for his childhood friend, Keiko Okabe. The story is partly set in 1942, when America is at war and 'enemy' citizens (those with Italian, German but mainly Japanese heritage) are being interned in prison camps. Henry is a lonely child - sent to an almost all-white school by his stern parents, his only friend is Keiko, a young girl of Japanese descent who, like Henry, is earning her scholarship by working in the school kitchens. They are only 12 when the story begins and their friendship and blossoming romance is sensitively portrayed.

As the grip of war tightens, Keiko and her family are among the thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent who are rounded up and imprisoned, supposedly to prevent them 'spying' for the enemy, and what belongings they can't take with them are hurridly stashed in the basement of the Panama Hotel.

The story of Henry and Keiko's wartime friendship is interspersed with flash-forwards to 1986, when Henry has taken early retirement and, after a happy marriage, is alone again with occasional visits from his somewhat distant son Marty. When he learns that the belongings of those Japanese families have been unearthed from the basement of the recently re-opened Panama Hotel, it reawakens his feelings for his wartime friend and his curiosity about what became of her and her family.

This is a beautifully told story, heartwarming and beguiling but thankfully not over-sentimental or twee. In his Author's Note, Jamie Ford says that he wished to recreate the internment of Japanese-Americans "without judging the good or bad intentions of those involved at the time".
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading 13 Sept. 2011
By Tried and Tested VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a wonderfully written book which really makes you feel for the characters. It is split between 1942 and 1986 and follows Henry, a young Chinese-American boy who does not fit in at his all white school, he is completely alone at school until Keiko, a Japanese-American joins his class and quickly becomes his best friend and the love of his life. When Keiko and her family are sent away to a labour camp, Henry swears he will always wait for her.

I never knew anything about how Chinese or Japanese people were treated during WW2, obviously on the whole the Japanese were seen as the enemy but I'd never considered the effect this must have had on those who were actually brought up to be US citizens. It would never have dawned on me that there would have been an effect on Chinese people based in the US (particularly from the fact a lot of people cannot tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese). This book, highlights the treatment not only of these two races but also of black people in the US during the war however, it does this in a way that is not judgemental, it is just telling it how it was.

This is a truly beautifully written book that really stirs up your emotions. It is one of my favourite reads of the year and I can highly recommend it.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb! 11 Jun. 2011
t's at times like this that I wish I were a writer and not just a reader as there is no way my words can ever do this beautiful novel the justice that it deserves. I would go as far as using the word 'masterpiece' to describe it and I feel a little bereft at the thought that I no longer have the wonderful world of Henry Lee to escape to having finished the book.

A dual time narrative, set in 1942 and 1986 - in Seattle, USA, with Henry Lee as the main character. In 1942, Henry is 13 years old and attending a Caucasian school in the city. Henry doesn't really know just who he is. At home he is forbidden to speak Cantonese as his parents want him to be 'American', yet neither his Father or his Mother speak English well enough to hold a conversation. At school, he is bullied and picked on by the white American pupils and called a 'white devil' by the Chinese kids in the area who attend the Chinese school. And then there is the badge that his Father insists that he wear on his jacket - the one that reads 'I Am Chinese'. Henry's father is terrified that someone will mistake him for a a Japanese boy - America is at war and the Japanese are the enemy, even those that were born in America.

At school, Henry helps out in the school canteen and it is when American-born of Japanese parents, Keiko begins to work there too that he realises just how different he is to his father. To him Keiko is his special friend, she's American, her parents are professional people, she doesn't even speak Japanese. Henry and Keiko become allies - discovering Jazz music and spending hours together.

And then, the USA Government decide to 'evacuate' everyone of Japanese origin. Keiko and her family are sent to ready-made internment camps where they will stay for the next three years or so.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming and heartwarming tale 25 Jan. 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Henry Lee is a 13 year old Chinese/American boy, living in Seattle during World War 2. He becomes friendly with a Japanese/American girl named Keiko. However, to Henry's father, a man still steeped in the Chinese culture, the Japanese are the enemy, and so Henry's friendship with Keiko takes on an air of forbidden love.

Keiko and her family get transported to a prisoner of war camp, along with all the other Japanese families, and their belongings are stored in the Panama Hotel. In 1986, Henry watches as belongings that have been there for over 40 years are unearthed.

This is a dual time narrative story, and the two strands run alongside each other very well. It's an easy to read book, and is quite charming and heartwarming. My only gripes were that sometimes the writing was a little twee, and I can't quite believe two 13 year olds would feel quite such a depth of emotion, but apart from that I really loved reading this book.

I thought the ending was lovely, and rounded off the story very satisfactorily. It's a very pleasant read that kept me wanting to find out what happened to Henry and Keiko.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Will make you smile and cry. A definite read for all book lovers
What an amazing story. Got quite upset when I'd finished reading it as the end is so sad yet happy. You really feel for Henry all the way through and kinda despise his father. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Nicola23
5.0 out of 5 stars What an amazing read!!!!
I loved this book as it encompassed fact with fiction. A love story, overshadowed by war and bigotry. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book
This is not the sort of book I would normally read but the reviews were good and the price was right. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Z. Scowen
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic and Unforgettable
Much has been written about this fantastic book already in earlier comments, so I won't repeat the synopsis of the story. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Patricia Grant
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very enjoyable
Published 20 days ago by Champagne Queen
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read
Endearing, charming and melancholic, this is a great read which shed light on a topic of which I was previously unaware, namely the Japanese 'relocation' during World War 2.
Published 23 days ago by LA
5.0 out of 5 stars Reccomended
Nice easy going story full of charm and nostalgia,
Published 23 days ago by Evan Barron
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy, sweet read
Interesting story flitting between 1940s and 1980s America. The story is very sentimental as the title rather suggests but is also a good insight into the way Japanese Americans... Read more
Published 24 days ago by LizVetnurse
5.0 out of 5 stars Bitter and Sweet Love
A fascinating story of love at the wrong time and place in history with an insight into Japanese internment in America during WW2. This book was recommended by a friend. Read more
Published 25 days ago by D.B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Whats' changed over the years? Sadly not much
Published 25 days ago by alan Dukes
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