Title: The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet
by: Jamie Ford
Summary: This story flashes back to the 1940s, (from the current year, 1986) when World War II was underway & after Pearl Harbor, when the Japanese people were considered enemies of the American people. So interment & refugee camps were built within the U.S. to coop up a people who had formerly been free to work & interact with other Americans. The story is told from the perspective of Henry, a Chinese boy who was discouraged from befriending or interacting with Japanese people, including Keiko (his new friend at Rainier school) & her family. His father was very controlling, in fact, & disowned Henry when Henry continued to befriend & even sought to court Keiko after she was taken away. Henry's entire life becomes full of bittersweet circumstances, including how he meets his wife Ethel (the teen who works at the post office & always takes his letters for Keiko for over a year.)
*Why do Henry's parents push him to speak only English once he starts middle school? Do you think it creates a rift between them?
*How do Henry & Keiko meet? Why is he wary of her at first?
* What is Camp Harmony? Why does Henry decide to go along with Mrs. Beatty to the camp?
*How does Henry stand up to his father? How does Henry stand up to Chaz & the other bullies? And why does Henry's father stop speaking to him entirely?
*Do you know what the conditions of Japanese Internment camps were?
*How did you feel when you realized Henry's dad had been controlling the correspondences between Henry & Keiko?
*What were the circumstances of Henry meeting Ethel? Did he end up having a happy marriage to her?
*What other historical fiction novels are written in split-narrative (past & present) that you enjoy?
"Precious things just seemed to go away, never to be had again."
"After all, my dad says they're just dumb kids that would pick on weak boys & little girls no matter what part of town they're from. That being Japanese or Chinese just makes the heckling that much easier-- we're easy targets."
"For the first time Henry realized where he was standing on one side of an unseen line between himself & his father, & everything else he'd known. He couldn't recall when he'd crossed it & couldn't see an easy way back."
My Rating: **** (4 stars)
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Hi, I'm Katie! I'm 33 years old, have 2 little babes, live in sunny Arizona & have begun dabbling in a bit of writing of children's books.