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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Jamie Ford - The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

review by showhost
A warm love story.  It’s gentle style reminded me a little of ‘Goodbye Mr Tom’ and both were set around WW2 but different location & country.
The story goes back and forwards from 1942 – 1980’s in Seatle USA.
It begins outside the Panama Hotel in Seattle in 1986 and a 56 year old Henry is watching with sadness and amazement as the possessions of more than 30 Japanese families are brought up from the cellar of the boarded up hotel.
Henry is a 12 year old Chinese boy in 1942.  His father is a staunch Chinese Nationalist and has raised thousands of pounds to fight the war against the Japanese back home in china.  Henry is made to go to an American and speak only English.  He wears a badge which says ‘I am chinese’.  There is ill feeling toward the Japanese in Seattle after the bombing of Pearl Harbour and Henrys father doesn’t want Henry to be accused of being Japanese.
Henry helps out in the school cafeteria during the school term to earn some money.  He also gives his packed lunch to a coloured musician, Sheldon, who busks on the street in Seattle.  In exchange he gets a nickel. 

Keiko is also 12, born & raised in America but of Japanese descent, so she is classed as Japanese.  Keiko also attends the same school as Henry and starts to help in the kitchen.  A secret friendship and then young love ensues, one that will be tested as the Japanese are rounded up and sent to internment camps.  They promise to wait for each other but fate deals a blow.
It is a ‘feel good’ book with sombre facts about the treatment of the Japanese during the 1940’s in America. 
Enjoyable book

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