Title: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Author: Jamie Ford
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: Though not as good as The Songs of Willow Frost, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet still managed to rip my heart into pieces and then put it back together--a simply beautiful book, with a sweet, tragic love story at its center--simply amazing!
This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Henry Lee is an old man now, haunted by memories of what could've been, what should've been, and what wasn't. Burdened by the grief of losing his wife, he finds that the past has caught up to him when a crowd gathers around the old, derelict Panama Hotel. Finding items from nearly forty years ago, the past washes over Henry with its usual mercy--that is, none. Told seamlessly between 1986 and 1942 and onward, he tells the story of Keiko Okabe, the sweet Japanese girl who captured his heart in the middle of a brutal war.. And in doing so, just might heal the wounds his heart has carried all these long years..
What I enjoyed:
-As with The Songs of Willow Frost, Ford has the pacing pitched perfectly--I was desperately hanging on to every word, eager to find out the ending of this beautiful, bittersweet story
-Henry, the old man who has lost nearly everything, and his courage to face the ghosts--and demons--of his past, and in doing so, finds grace and healing and a happy ending that he deserves--I really felt for him as the novel went on
-Keiko, the sweet Japanese girl who is unfortunately caught up in mass hysteria
-I really enjoyed the way Ford so skillfully captured the atmosphere of post-Pearl Harbor hysteria--the fear, anger, and even hatred directed at those who were not directly "American"
-The love story of Henry and Keiko really made this story shine for me--it definitely sold me
-Sheldon, of course
-Marty and Sam
-The bittersweet memories of Henry's beloved Ethel
-The ending--I loved it and it was just perfect
What could've been better:
-Despite Henry's parents being traditional Cantonese Chinese citizens, I really didn't like either of them, particularly his father
-I wish more could've been said about Ethel, and Marty's childhood
For fans of historical fiction and great, engaging love stories, pick up Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and The Songs of Willow Frost! Next on deck: Moonfall: Tales from the Levant by Vanessa Morton!