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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Hardcover – 28 Apr 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 306 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 350 pages
  • Publisher: ALLISON & BUSBY (28 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749009195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749009199
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.4 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (306 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 559,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Advance praise for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
"Jamie Ford's novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is deeply informed by an intimate knowledge of Seattle during World War II, of the tribulations of Asian peoples during the time of Japanese internment, and even of the Seattle jazz scene of that time. His story of an innocent passion that crosses racial barriers-and then, of the whole life of a man who forsook the girl he loved-is told with an artistic technique that makes emotion inevitable."
-Louis B. Jones, author of Particles and Luck
"I loved it! Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a beautiful and tender masterpiece. A book everyone will be talking about, and the best book you'll read this year."
-Anne Frasier, USA Today bestselling author of Garden of Darkness
"Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet tells a heartwarming story of fathers and sons, first loves, fate, and the resilient human heart. Set in the ethnic neighborhoods of Seattle during World War II and Japanese American internment camps of the era, the times and places are brought to life by the marvelous, evocative details."
-Jim Tomlinson, winner of the 2006 Iowa Short Fiction Award and author of Things Kept, Things Left Behind

Sentimental, heartfelt novel portrays two children separated during the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
In 1940s Seattle, ethnicities do not mix. Whites, blacks, Chinese and Japanese live in separate neighborhoods, and their children attend different schools. When Henry Lee's staunchly nationalistic father pins an "I am Chinese" button to his 12-year-old son's shirt and enrolls him in an all-white prep school, Henry finds himself friendless and at the mercy of schoolyard bullies. His salvation arrives in the form of Keiko, a Japanese girl with whom Henry forms an instant--and forbidden--bond. The occasionally sappy prose tends to overtly express subtleties that readers would be happier to glean for themselves, but the tender relationship between the two young people is moving. The older Henry, a recent widower living in 1980s Seattle, reflects in a series of flashbacks on his burgeoning romance with Keiko and its abrupt ending when her family was evacuated. A chance discovery of items left behind by Japanese-Americans during the evacuation inspires Henry to share his and Keiko's story with his own son, in hopes of preventing the dysfunctional parent-child relationship he experienced with his own father. The major problem here is that Henry's voice always sounds like that of a grown man, never quite like that of a child; the boy of the flashbacks is jarringly precocious and not entirely credible. Still, the exploration of Henry's changing relationship with his family and with Keiko will keep most readers turning pages while waiting for the story arc to come full circle, despite the overly flowery portrait of young love, cruel fate and unbreakable bonds.
Atimely debut that not only reminds readers of a shameful episode in American history, but cautions us to examine the present and take heed we don't repeat those injustices. "- Kirkus Reviews"
Advance praise for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
"Jamie Ford's novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is deeply informed by an intimate knowledge of Seattle during World War II, of the tribulations of Asian peoples during the time of Japanese internment, and even of the Seattle jazz scene of that time. His story of an innocent passion that crosses racial barriers-and then, of the whole life of a man who forsook the girl he loved-is told with an artistic technique that makes emotion inevitable."
-Louis B. Jones, author of Particles and Luck
"I loved it! Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a beautiful and tender masterpiece. A book everyone will be talking about, and the best book you'll read this year."
-Anne Frasier, USA Today bestselling author of Garden of Darkness
"Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet tells a heartwarming story of fathers and sons, first loves, fate, and the resilient human heart. Set in the ethnic neighborhoods of Seattle during World War II and Japanese American internment camps of the era, the times and places are brought to life by the marvelous, evocative details."
-Jim Tomlinson, winner of the 2006 Iowa Short Fiction Award and author of Things Kept, Things Left Behind

"A tender and satisfying novel set in a time and a place lost forever, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" gives us a glimpse of the damage that is caused by war--not the sweeping damage of the battlefield, but the cold, cruel damage to the hearts and humanity of individual people. Especially relevant in today's world, this is a beautifully written book that will make you think. And, more importantly, it will make you "feel,""
--Garth Stein, "New York Times" bestselling author of "The Art of Racing in the Rain"
"Jamie Ford's first novel explores the age-old conflicts between father and son, the beauty and sadness of what happened to Japanese Americans in the Seattle area during World War II, and the depths and longing of deep-heart love. An impressive, bitter, and sweet debut."
-Lisa See, bestselling author of "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

""Sentimental, heartfelt novel portrays two children separated during the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. In 1940s Seattle, ethnicities do not mix. Whites, blacks, Chinese and Japanese live in separate neighborhoods, and their children attend different schools. When Henry Lee's staunchly nationalistic father pins an "I am Chinese" button to his 12-year-old son's shirt and enrolls him in an all-white prep school, Henry finds himself friendless and at the mercy of schoolyard bullies. His salvation arrives in the form of Keiko, a Japanese girl with whom Henry forms an instant--and forbidden--bond. The occasionally sappy prose tends to overtly express subtleties that readers would be happier to glean for themselves, but the tender relationship between the two young people is moving. The older Henry, a recentwidower living in 1980s Seattle, reflects in a series of flashbacks on his burgeoning romance with Keiko and its abrupt ending when her family was evacuated. A chance discovery of items left behind by Japanese-Americans during the evacuation inspires Henry to share his and Keiko's story with his own son, in hopes of preventing the dysfunctional parent-child relationship he experienced with his own father. The major problem here is that Henry's voice always sounds like that of a grown man, never quite like that of a child; the boy of the flashbacks is jarringly precocious and not entirely credible. Still, the exploration of Henry's changing relationship with his family and with Keiko will keep most readers turning pages while waiting for the story arc to come full circle, despite the overly flowery portrait of young love, cruel fate and unbreakable bonds. A timely debut that not only reminds readers of a shameful episode in American history, but cautions us to examine the present and take heed we don't repeat those injustices." "- Kirkus Reviews
""Fifth-grade scholarship students and best friends Henry and Keiko are the only Asians in their Seattle elementary school in 1942. Henry is Chinese, Keiko is Japanese, and Pearl Harbor has made all Asians-even those who are American born-targets for abuse. Because Henry's nationalistic father has a deep-seated hatred for Japan, Henry keeps his friendship with and eventual love for Keiko a secret. When Keiko's family is sent to an internment camp in Idaho, Henry vows to wait for her. Forty years later, Henry comes upon an old hotel where the belongings of dozens of displaced Japanese families have turned up in the basement, and his love forKeiko is reborn. In his first novel, award-winning short-story writer Ford expertly nails the sweet innocence of first love, the cruelty of racism, the blindness of patriotism, the astonishing unknowns between parents and their children, and the sadness and satisfaction at the end of a life well lived. The result is a vivid picture of a confusing and critical time in American history. Recommended for all fiction collections." "- Library Journal"


Advance praise for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
"Jamie Ford's novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is deeply informed by an intimate knowledge of Seattle during World War II, of the tribulations of Asian peoples during the time of Japanese internment, and even of the Seattle jazz scene of that time. His story of an innocent passion that crosses racial barriers-and then, of the whole life of a man who forsook the girl he loved-is told with an artistic technique that makes emotion inevitable."
-Louis B. Jones, author of Particles and Luck
"I loved it! Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a beautiful and tender masterpiece. A book everyone will be talking about, and the best book you'll read this year."
-Anne Frasier, USA Today bestselling author of Garden of Darkness
"Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet tells a heartwarming story of fathers and sons, first loves, fate, and the resilient human heart. Set in the ethnic neighborhoods of Seattle during World War II and Japanese American internment camps of the era, the times and places are brought to life by the marvelous, evocative details."
-Jim Tomlinson, winner of the 2006 Iowa Short Fiction Award and author of Things Kept, Things LeftBehind

"Mesmerizing and evocative, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet "is a tale of conflicted loyalties, devotion, as well as a vibrant portrait of Seattle's Nihonmachi district in its heyday."
-- Sara Gruen, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Water for Elephants"
"A tender and satisfying novel set in a time and a place lost forever, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" gives us a glimpse of the damage that is caused by war--not the sweeping damage of the battlefield, but the cold, cruel damage to the hearts and humanity of individual people. Especially relevant in today's world, this is a beautifully written book that will make you think. And, more importantly, it will make you "feel,""
--Garth Stein, "New York Times" bestselling author of "The Art of Racing in the Rain"
"Jamie Ford's first novel explores the age-old conflicts between father and son, the beauty and sadness of what happened to Japanese Americans in the Seattle area during World War II, and the depths and longing of deep-heart love. An impressive, bitter, and sweet debut."
-Lisa See, bestselling author of "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

""Sentimental, heartfelt novel portrays two children separated during the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. In 1940s Seattle, ethnicities do not mix. Whites, blacks, Chinese and Japanese live in separate neighborhoods, and their children attend different schools. When Henry Lee's staunchly nationalistic father pins an "I am Chinese" button to his 12-year-old son's shirt and enrolls him in an all-white prep school, Henry finds himself friendless and at the mercy of schoolyard bullies. His salvation arrives in the form of Keiko, aJapanese girl with whom Henry forms an instant--and forbidden--bond. The occasionally sappy prose tends to overtly express subtleties that readers would be happier to glean for themselves, but the tender relationship between the two young people is moving. The older Henry, a recent widower living in 1980s Seattle, reflects in a series of flashbacks on his burgeoning romance with Keiko and its abrupt ending when her family was evacuated. A chance discovery of items left behind by Japanese-Americans during the evacuation inspires Henry to share his and Keiko's story with his own son, in hopes of preventing the dysfunctional parent-child relationship he experienced with his own father. The major problem here is that Henry's voice always sounds like that of a grown man, never quite like that of a child; the boy of the flashbacks is jarringly precocious and not entirely credible. Still, the exploration of Henry's changing relationship with his family and with Keiko will keep most readers turning pages while waiting for the story arc to come full circle, despite the overly flowery portrait of young love, cruel fate and unbreakable bonds. A timely debut that not only reminds readers of a shameful episode in American history, but cautions us to examine the present and take heed we don't repeat those injustices." "- Kirkus Reviews
""Fifth-grade scholarship students and best friends Henry and Keiko are the only Asians in their Seattle elementary school in 1942. Henry is Chinese, Keiko is Japanese, and Pearl Harbor has made all Asians-even those who are American born-targets for abuse. Because Henry's nationalistic father has a deep-seated hatred for Japan, Henry keeps his friendship with andeventual love for Keiko a secret. When Keiko's family is sent to an internment camp in Idaho, Henry vows to wait for her. Forty years later, Henry comes upon an old hotel where the belongings of dozens of displaced Japanese families have turned up in the basement, and his love for Keiko is reborn. In his first novel, award-winning short-story writer Ford expertly nails the sweet innocence of first love, the cruelty of racism, the blindness of patriotism, the astonishing unknowns between parents and their children, and the sadness and satisfaction at the end of a life well lived. The result is a vivid picture of a confusing and critical time in American history. Recommended for all fiction collections." "- Library Journal"


Advance praise for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
"Jamie Ford's novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is deeply informed by an intimate knowledge of Seattle during World War II, of the tribulations of Asian peoples during the time of Japanese internment, and even of the Seattle jazz scene of that time. His story of an innocent passion that crosses racial barriers-and then, of the whole life of a man who forsook the girl he loved-is told with an artistic technique that makes emotion inevitable."
-Louis B. Jones, author of Particles and Luck
"I loved it! Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a beautiful and tender masterpiece. A book everyone will be talking about, and the best book you'll read this year."
-Anne Frasier, USA Today bestselling author of Garden of Darkness
"Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet tells a heartwarming story of fathers and sons, first loves, fate, and the resilient human heart. Set in the ethnicneighborhoods of Seattle during World War II and Japanese American internment camps of the era, the times and places are brought to life by the marvelous, evocative details."
-Jim Tomlinson, winner of the 2006 Iowa Short Fiction Award and author of Things Kept, Things Left Behind

"Mesmerizing and evocative, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet "is a tale of conflicted loyalties, devotion, as well as a vibrant portrait of Seattle's Nihonmachi district in its heyday."
-- Sara Gruen, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Water for Elephants "
"A tender and satisfying novel set in a time and a place lost forever, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" gives us a glimpse of the damage that is caused by war--not the sweeping damage of the battlefield, but the cold, cruel damage to the hearts and humanity of individual people. Especially relevant in today's world, this is a beautifully written book that will make you think. And, more importantly, it will make you "feel"."
--Garth Stein, "New York Times" bestselling author of "The Art of Racing in t

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-six languages. Having grown up near Seattle's Chinatown, Ford now lives in Montana with his wife and children. www.jamieford.com



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By Denise4891🌟 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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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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I have read a lot of novels based during the second world war, mostly about the treatment of Jew's during this time. This is the first novel i've read that explains what happened to the American Japanese population. I had absolutely no idea that they were all herded up and taken to camps, in an eerily similar way to the Jewish population in Germany.

The novel moves between the 1940's and the 1980's and shows clearly how much we have all moved on from the tragedies of the second world war. The 1980's situation in America seems to be much more accepting thankfully. I really enjoyed seeing the differences between the way people lived in the two time periods, although i did have trouble with how old Henry was in the 1980's. He kept coming across as much older than his 50 odd years.

This is not a fast moving novel, it's all about well described very emotional moments in Henry's life and the lives of the people around him. Definitely a book i would recommend!
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This is such an enjoyable read, which deserves to be a bestseller. I haven't recommended it to anyone who doesn't agree.

Enough has been said by previous reviewers regarding the plot. Suffice to say that it is beautifully written story of thwarted young love, never oversentimentalised or mawkish. The research is impeccable and highlights the after effects of war on innocents.

There are many finely drawn supporting characters who would warrant short stories themselves.

My favourite read in 2010. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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By Lincs Reader TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Jun. 2011
Format: Hardcover
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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