“The old Seattle landmark was a place he’d visited twice in his lifetime. First when he was only twelve years old, way back in 1942 – ‘the war years’ he liked to call them. Even then the old bachelor hotel had stood as a gateway between Seattle’s Chinatown and Nihonmachi, Japantown. Two outposts of an old world conflict – where Chinese and Japanese immigrants rarely spoke to one another, while their American-born children often played kick the can in the streets together. The hotel has always been the perfect landmark. A perfect meeting place – where he’d once met the love of his life.”
This is the kind of novel I just love. We have the innocence of childhood dashed away due to outside circumstances. In this case, it concerns the friendship of a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl, both living in Seattle in the 1940’s, both American born. However, with Japan’s invasion of China half a world away, lines are drawn and enemies made. For Henry and Keiko, however, they don’t understand why it should concern them. They are American, after all.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a touching love story, a coming of age story, and an amazing glimpse into our own American history. I so appreciated Mr. Ford’s images of this area of Seattle during the war years, and taking us along on Keiko’s journey to the internment camp. I also appreciated the author’s deliberate telling of a story without passing judgement. It enabled the reader to see all sides and understand that sometimes, it is not easy to be uninfluenced by what is happening all around you. Lastly, this novel is a beautiful novel of friendship that knows no color barrier.
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2009