Jamie Ford’s, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is one of this years MustReads. Another historical fiction novel that makes a person stop and wonder how much is fiction and how much is history. The book takes place during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history. It’s hard to imagine a novel that sucks you in about the internment of American-Japanese families during World War II but this one does. Mr. Ford touches on part of American history we should all know more about, but my belief is this is part of the US’s dark history that schools tend to skip over. Heartbreaking and warm, light and heavy, hopeful and hopeless all at the same time. When rating a book, I look at the emotional gamete and this one runs them all.
It’s all about a tender friendship between a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl who are both subject to prejudice and bullying. Their natural friendship, family and school life is meshed together in a great story. Jamie Ford does a fantastic job and weaving the past and present and bringing them together at the end. The story is set in Seattle, Washington, and is described in a way, I could almost smell the air.
My only disappointment was a bit of the timeline. There wasn’t really an internet support group to the local-everyday-people of America let alone home computers in 1986. (’96 maybe, the timeline could have been researched a bit more and I think pushing it ten years in the future wouldn’t have been a stretch.) I was a senior in high school in ’86 and there were things that the author portrayed that weren’t exactly spot on… Otherwise, this is a great read that leaves you scratching your head and wondering what we were thinking as Americans.
Although the book is a little slow to get going, I highly recommend it, push through the first few chapters and you’ll be hooked.