Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet

Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet

Large Print - 2009
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Set in the ethnic neighborhoods of Seattle during World War II and Japanese American internment camps of the era, this debut novel tells the story of widower Henry Lee, his father, and his first love Keiko Okabe.
Publisher: Waterville, Me. : Thorndike Press, 2009.
Edition: Large print ed.
ISBN: 9781410414977
Characteristics: 507 p. (large print) ; 23 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
May 02, 2019

I had known of the Japanese internment camps during WW2 but this book helped to make it real and gave me insight. It’s an old-fashioned love story à la Romeo and Juliet, rather sentimentally told and sugar coated. I appreciated the theme about “home” – what is it? where is it? how we can never go back to that remembered sense of home. But while the content is admirable and interesting for its authenticity, Ford’s writing style is simplistic and repetitive, as if he wants to make sure we "get it." I’m a stickler for good writing. I’m glad I read it but not sure I’d recommend it.
A quote I liked: ”I try not to live in the past, but the past lives in me.”

Mar 11, 2019

Not good. Reads like YA.

Feb 26, 2019

i read this book to fulfil the goal read a book that contains the worlds salty, sweet, bitter or spicy in the title. It was a bit slow going at first, but i enjoyed it at the end. it is a fiction work, but contains some true elements.

Dec 10, 2018

DNF @ 45%. I almost made it the whole year without DNFing (Did-not-finish) a book. I decided that rather than slog through this story (which I believe has a rather predictable ending) I would call it quits, put it down and move on to something else I actually enjoyed. I couldn't bring myself to give this book a 1 star, even though I didn't finish it- because it's not TERRIBLE. It's just boring, repetitive and trying way too hard to be something that it's not. This story would have been fabulous as a novella or as part of a short story compilation. It feels too long and bloated for its own good, to be very honest. The emotions and feelings are there, but as the novel drags on and the same scenes are replayed over and over, it seems like the author is playing the same notes expecting the same responses. Yes, this child is bullied for being of Asian descent. His friend gets taken away to an internment camp because she's Japanese. The war is going on and there are foods being rationed, and fear is everywhere. This is all too true, and harsh, and accurate, but would have certainly been more poignant and powerful as a chord played once, rather than a child mangling a piano for five minutes.

IndyPL_SteveB Nov 26, 2018

This is a moving novel of American history, racial divides, and family.

In 1986, widower Henry Lee is standing in front of an abandoned Seattle hotel, when the new owner brings out a Japanese parasol, left behind from World War II. His memories flash back to 1942, when he was the only Chinese-American student in the white middle school and his best friend was Keiko, the only Japanese-American girl at that school. As Ford spins out his tale, Henry for the first time tells his son of his own family conflicts with his conservative father over his friendship with Keiko.

You will see World War II from an entirely different perspective than you have ever imagined it before. Of course the Japanese families were hated because of the war and were soon placed into what were essentially prison camps. But the Chinese families had nearly as much prejudice against them as Asians, even though the Chinese were our allies against the Japanese. Ford does an excellent job of portraying the complexities of these relationships and of the mixed emotions of sorrow and happiness.

It is the story of friendship, love, and relationships as told by a 50+ year old second-generation Chinese-American. This wonderful piece of historical fiction seamlessly flows between the 1940’s and 1986, as it delves into the effects, and the aftermath, of the Japanese internment in the Seattle area. Ford does an exceptional job of exploring the history and attitudes of the time, with unique insight into the generational and racial views surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbour, and the consequences of being a minority in a very American setting. Whether you are a sucker for great historical fiction, want a quick cultural history lesson, or one of those that remember the rollercoaster that is first love, book a room at the Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and stay a while! (submitted by JF)

Jul 27, 2018

Heartbreaking (though heartwarming by the end) and relevant in today’s political climate. Also, great descriptions of local Seattle areas during different historical periods.

ArapahoeMarieC Jul 26, 2018

I loved this book! I have never read a book about plight of Japanese-American internees and Chinese-Americans during WWII and found this book engrossing!

Jul 17, 2018

I loved this book! I have never read a book about plight of Japanese-American internees and Chinese-Americans during WWII and found this book engrossing!

Jan 28, 2018

I loved this book, wonderful story. The author describes his characters and places so well I was able to 'see' them clearly! War has such devastating effects on so many people in so many different ways. Man's inhumanity to man! I have known many Canadians of Japanese decent who were treated as the enemy, as well as Canadians of other nationalities, mistreated because of their heritage and not accepted for who they are. History keeps repeating itself!

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Oct 23, 2016

blue_dog_8329 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Sep 05, 2015

bandanana thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Dec 18, 2013

eurydice_orpheus thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

orange_cat_2301 Aug 13, 2012

orange_cat_2301 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

blue_raven_28 Jun 26, 2012

blue_raven_28 thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

Jun 19, 2012

hlsadler thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


Add a Summary
Jul 02, 2013

This is a beautifully written book showing both the pain and beauty of love, music & friendship among the challenges of assimilation, discrimination and war.

Jun 19, 2012

A young Chinese-American boy befriends a Japanese-American girl who is displaced into a Japanese-American Interment camp.


Add a Quote
Oct 23, 2016

"Thank you and you have a fine day sir" -Sheldon and Henry

Jan 23, 2011

The hardest choices in life aren't between what's right and what's wrong but between what's right and what's best.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings

WPL owns a similar edition of this title.

View originally-listed edition

Report edition-matching error

To Top