Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Well, I am finally all caught up on my blogging (FINALLY). And I have just recently finished reading another book so in the hopes of staying more on-top of my write-ups, here are my thoughts on Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford:
Go read it.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was actually another Villanova One Book, like Rooftops of Tehran. The difference being that this was named a One Book after I graduated so I don’t feel quite as bad for not reading it sooner. Aside from the fact that I loved it. Hotel is the story of a Chinese man named Henry Lee. The story opens in the 1980’s when Henry is watching the news and sees that a discovery has been made in the basement of the nearby Panama Hotel. It appears that many Japanese families, in order to save their possessions while they were forced into internment camps during World War II, stored them in the basement of the hotel and returned for them. This brings Henry back to the 1940s when the world, more specifically Seattle, was a different place. He was attending an all-white prep school on scholarship when he befriends the new Japanese student, Keiko (also on scholarship). Their friendship is put to the test by the times (and Henry’s anti-Japanese father). Jumping back and forth between 1986 and the 1940’s, Ford tells the story of young love and what happens when things beyond one’s control get in the way.
Confession: I got a little teary-eyed in this book too. The title sums up the overall tone of the novel pretty accurately: bitter and sweet. In my opinion, Ford balances the two emotions seamlessly and in a way that drives the reader towards its rewarding ending. While flipping back and forth between these time periods, Ford uses jazz music as a common denominator. Henry as a young boy loves jazz and shares this with Keiko. As a grown man, we see Henry visiting record stores to purchase jazz music and always in constant search of one album in particular. This love of jazz music is developed as a prominent theme and serves as the backbone to the whole story. This theme provides a certain spark that makes the story both livelier and richer.
I truly enjoyed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I hope you’ll take the time to read this touching novel and that you end feeling the same way.
P.S. Jamie Ford published a new book called Songs of Willow Frost this fall that I’ve already added to my “must read” list!