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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Audiobook

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel

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Publisher's Summary

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford's stunning debut, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry's world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While scholarshipping at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship and innocent love that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel's dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice, words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

©2009 Jamie Ford; (P)2009 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"A tender and satisfying work set in a time and a place lost forever, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet gives us a glimpse of the damage that is caused by war - not the sweeping damage of the battlefield, but the cold, cruel damage to the hearts and humanity of individual people. Especially relevant in today's world, this is a beautifully written book that will make you think. And, more importantly, it will make you feel." (Garth Stein, New York Times best-selling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain)
"Jamie Ford's first title explores the age-old conflicts between father and son, the beauty and sadness of what happened to Japanese Americans in the Seattle area during World War II, and the depths and longing of deep-heart love. An impressive, bitter, and sweet debut." (Lisa See, best-selling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (2568 )
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4.4 (1432 )
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Performance
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  •  
    PJ 08-27-13
    PJ 08-27-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well-written, well-read"

    I enjoyed this book when I wasn't sure I would. Some of the aspects of the plot are predictable, but the author does an excellent job of weaving together the present with various stages of the main character's past. Very well performed and overall an enjoyable read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    photobug Nampa, ID USA 08-25-13
    photobug Nampa, ID USA 08-25-13 Member Since 2006

    kfjgtn

    ratings
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    Story
    "Excellent book!"
    What made the experience of listening to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet the most enjoyable?

    I loved the factual basis of the story with characters from the past. Although this is fiction, a great respect was given to historical fact in this novel.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved the emotion I felt while listening, I honestly didn't want to stop listening until is was finished!


    Which character – as performed by Feodor Chin – was your favorite?

    The character of Henry, the main character for the story was so well portrayed both as a young man and as an older man. The changes in the voice of the reader was done well between male and female, Chinese and Japanese and American characters.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marianna Cleveland Mead, WA, US 08-14-13
    Marianna Cleveland Mead, WA, US 08-14-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful book!! Sweet story!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    The reader was fantastic!! And the story taught about the history of the times. Being from Spokane, WA............easy to relate to the story on a deeper level.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet?

    When the young man did everything he could to find his friend.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cindy FRIENDSWOOD, TEXAS, United States 06-13-13
    Cindy FRIENDSWOOD, TEXAS, United States 06-13-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Best book I've listened to in a long time."
    What did you love best about Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet?

    I loved the story line. It was very interesting to read about the different cultures and what was happening during the war. I had no idea there were "concentration camps" in the US.
    This was a beautiful book and worth every minute!!!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel Bremerton, WA, United States 05-17-13
    Rachel Bremerton, WA, United States 05-17-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "First (audio)book to make me tear up"
    If you could sum up Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet in three words, what would they be?

    Realistically touching book


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Without going into to much detail as to not ruin the story for new readers, I would have to say Henry's second non-sunday visit to Sheldon.


    If you could take any character from Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Mr. Okabe. While he has a rather small role in the story he is still a fascinating character that implores understanding and unrivaled moral fiber. Hands down he is who I'd want to talk to as his life and his perspective must be truly captivating. (if the author wrote a book about Mr. Okabe I would read it in a heartbeat)


    Any additional comments?

    This book is captivating and memorable. Your heart will stir for many different reasons and while a work of fiction, it touches on real events and very real emotions. Everything about this book is organic in the characters evolution. It provides critical thinking in regards to human emotion and that some actions are not always what they seem or done for malicious reasons. I loved this book and glad my book club picked it out.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    eclectic reader Fort Myers, FL USA 05-15-13
    eclectic reader Fort Myers, FL USA 05-15-13 Member Since 2015

    wanderer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Seattle of WW II with a great love story"
    Where does Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is an enjoyable listen that drew me into the story. Evokes some of the feeling of snow falling on cedars.


    Which character – as performed by Feodor Chin – was your favorite?

    The central character and his emotional growth throughout the book brought me into the story


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I found myself prolonging my listening sessions just to experience the world of Hotel Bitter and Sweet as it developed.


    Any additional comments?

    The mingling of music and love added a dimension to the story. The story works well as an audio book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    betty quakertown, PA, United States 05-14-13
    betty quakertown, PA, United States 05-14-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "great book our book club read this"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    yes well written and narrator was super


    What does Feodor Chin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    increased knowledge about how America


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me realize how unfair we Americans acted towards other Americans


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tamara United States 03-19-13
    Tamara United States 03-19-13
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    "Great"
    Would you listen to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet again? Why?

    It was a great story of how different races feel towards each other and how time can change that some.


    Have you listened to any of Feodor Chin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no I have not


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Their meetings at the fence and when he would go all the way to the concentration camps to look for her.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    alice 03-11-13
    alice 03-11-13 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Historical fiction at its painful best."
    What made the experience of listening to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet the most enjoyable?

    The absorbing human story intertwined into the sad history of west coast internment of Japanese citizens.


    Which character – as performed by Feodor Chin – was your favorite?

    Henry. The narrator was wonderful, read with great feeling...inflections so authentic.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a story which enlightens the reader and portrays a global view of WWII from Asia to Germany.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Sanders 03-09-13
    K. Sanders 03-09-13

    Kimberly

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great mix of American history and fiction"
    Would you listen to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet again? Why?

    Definitely. I loved the story. This is a lovely tale about two young adults, from totally different cultures, who find a friendship and understanding in a world turned on end by war. The characters are very likable and the story is quite touching. Not in a mushy Harlequin way, but in a Wow sort of way.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I had no idea when I purchased the book that it took place in Seattle (my home town). I was surprised at how many places are still here today and how many I frequent on a regular basis. I thought I knew my town and our country's history pretty well… I was wrong.


    What does Feodor Chin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I honestly didn't think I cared for audio books, but the narrator had a way of grabbing and holding my attention. His voice was even, his characters were believable, and he made you like them. I could honestly see each person in the story. I've heard other narrators that just annoyed me, their phony accents, over exaggerated voices, etc.... were too much like a very bad low budget film.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Yes, but I don't want to spoil the tale for anyone else.


    Any additional comments?

    I was shocked that the Liberal Seattle I know and love was once very much the opposite. Quite surprising.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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