Review: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

This book, you guys! I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it so much, or be so moved by the story. I’m so glad I read it! I just kind of picked it up and thought “why not?” and then brought it with me on vacation – where I usually take my light reads. But this book hit me pretty hard. Set in Seattle in the 1940s and 1980s it follows an American man of Chinese descent as he looks back on WWII when his American born girlfriend of Japanese descent is sent to an internment camp. Being from Vancouver I am familiar with that nasty part of history. My friend has a cabin in the area where some Japanese people were sent. I’m glad I was able to read more about it and have this part of history personalized a bit. Jamie Ford is a great writer, I was able to glide through the pages and really feel as though I were there. His portrayal of 1942 felt very authentic. He does a great job of making you feel like you’re there; I felt like I was walking the streets, listening to jazz, and could almost smell the ocean. He also really makes you sympathize for children of immigrants who are trying to fit in to the country they were born in while also trying to appease their parents and stay true to their cultural heritage. That cannot be easy. On top of all that this story is about turmoil, racism, regret, difficult decisions, guilt, and a life lived the best way a person knows how.  Every character feels real, they feel like actual people with dimensions and complicated personalities. That is not something that you find in every book.

I think this book should be mandatory grade school curriculum. Especially in the United States and Canada. I would recommend it to anyone and would love to hear what other people thought of it.


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