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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel | [Jamie Ford]

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel

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.
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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 (2230 )
5 star
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4.3 (1125 )
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Tami Washington 05-31-12
    Tami Washington 05-31-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    4
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    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Not entirely what you expect"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Henry. He shows what love beyond any limitations (time, race, perceptions, expectations....) can feel like


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

    No


    If you could rename Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, what would you call it?

    Love, beginning and ending


    Any additional comments?

    Especially poignant if you happen to live in Seattle.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ashley 05-15-12
    Ashley 05-15-12 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Sweet story with good narration"
    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoyed the narration of this book. Chin did a great job bringing the varied characters to life - including the young girl and the seasoned Jazz musician). The story was sweet and provided some interesting insight into Japanese and Chinese cultures in America during the second World War.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doc's Mom St. Paul MN 04-18-12
    Doc's Mom St. Paul MN 04-18-12 Listener Since 2009

    Randee and Dan

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    45
    8
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Story
    "Nice Love story"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    This book was a nice love story. I guess I need to find an actual history book to read more about the day to day lives in the relocation camps.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The most interesting aspect was the fact that so much of the Japanese people's belongings had to be left behind or destroyed when they were relocated.


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

    The intonation of the character's voices was very good


    Could you see Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Yes on the movie or TV show. No comment on the actors.


    Any additional comments?

    I was hoping to hear more about the day to day life in the relocation camps.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sidney 04-05-12
    Sidney 04-05-12
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    190
    5
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    0
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    "Recommended for every generation!"
    Where does Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is ranked very high among my list of audiobooks.


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

    This is a bittersweet story of two young people during the evacuation of Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II, shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Ford's characters come to life on each page and by the end of his story you literally have a lump in your throat. Beautifully written and wonderfully told by Feodor Chin.


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

    Chin does a great job moving between characters. You almost feel that there is more than one narrator.


    Any additional comments?

    Buy this audible, you won't regret it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ks Battle Creek, mi, United States 03-31-12
    ks Battle Creek, mi, United States 03-31-12 Member Since 2014

    loves2read

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Hopeful story"
    Where does Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I enjoyed listening to this audiobook.


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

    When the meaning of the title was reviled.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The finding of the record.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa Indianapolis, IN, United States 02-19-12
    Teresa Indianapolis, IN, United States 02-19-12 Member Since 2014

    As a person with dyslexia, audio books give me the opportunity to "read" wonderful books that I would otherwise miss. Thank you for this fabulous service.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    611
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    46
    37
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    31
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    "An Unexpected Delight"

    This book had been recommended to me several times by the same person, but I just hadn't gotten around to it. I'm sorry I waited so long.

    I like a book that has a great story, interesting and believable characters, good writing, and information. This is the whole package.

    I knew very little about the Japanese internment in the US during WWII. Now I want to learn more.

    The narrator is first-rate. He does a nice job with the female characters and gives a hint of an accent when appropriate without being difficult to understand.

    This would be a very good book for anyone from a teenager on up. The lesson is universal and timeless.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Eagar, Az, United States 02-14-12
    Linda Eagar, Az, United States 02-14-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    39
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    44
    27
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    1
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    Story
    "So Sweet!"

    I really enjoyed this book. Normally I don't care for books that go back and forth between times, but this one was easy to follow and made the story better. The reader was perfect. The author keeps you guessing (and hoping) what the end will be and gives a better understanding of that part of history. Great Book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Dallas, OR 02-13-12
    Mike Dallas, OR 02-13-12 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Outstanding telling of the internship of WWII"

    I grew up near Seattle, and lived there during the period when those Japanese that were interred during the war were coming back to the area. Later, I was in a church with several families. This book brought tears to my eyes several times....but it's a good read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn Dallas, TX, United States 01-10-12
    Carolyn Dallas, TX, United States 01-10-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "History in a Great Story."
    What did you love best about Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet?

    The history of the conflict in our homeland through the eyes of a child and then an adult. I highly recommend this for kids age 14 plus. If you care about the inner conflicts in our culture, read this and you will gain a different perspective of the US culture.


    What other book might you compare Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet to and why?

    I don't know,


    What about Feodor Chin’s performance did you like?

    The description of the young man and how he was mistaken as Japanese and he was Chinese.


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

    No, but it kept me coming back and I truly wanted to read the entire story.


    Any additional comments?

    Recommend this to teachers and history teachers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcia 12-21-11
    Marcia 12-21-11 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    74
    ratings
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    141
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    28
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "agonizing"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    A reader may enjoy this book more than a listener. The narrator pauses in the wrong places, is somewhat monotone and places emphasis in the wrong places.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Jamie Ford again?

    No. The author seems repetitive, explaining every detail rather than allowing for the possibility of a reader having some intelligence.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Feodor Chin’s performances?

    ABSOLUTELY NOT


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    This book came highly recommended however I am so bored by Chin's slumbering voice that I can't stay awake and the story is lost.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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