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“Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford

3.3 out of 4 stars.

Snooze alert.

This book criss crosses from the early 1940s during World War II to the book’s “present day” of 1980s. The main character is a Chinese man by the name of Henry Lee who has just become a widower after losing his wife, Ethel. He is roughly in his 50s. However, this love story is about his first love, Keiko Okabe, a Japanese woman, who was taken away from the Seattle area (where they met) to an interment camp until the war cleared up. It was a Romeo and Juliet romance for the two in the 40s because the Chinese and Japanese were at odds with each other. Keiko’s family would of been fine with the ¬†mingling but Henry’s father decided not to speak to his son at the news for several years until he dies.

Henry is at a loss of what to do now that he does not have his wife in his life so he begins to walk around town to get some fresh air and stay busy. On one of his trips he sees a lot of action going on outside the Panama Hotel. A new owner had just purchased it after being vacant for decades and they found a large portion of belongings from the Seattle Japanese families that were sent away to the camps. The hotel had been a place of storage until they hopefully were allowed back to their homes. Maybe there would be items belonging to Keiko?

A story that is more based on love than it is historical facts. Yes, a Chinese man and a Japanese woman falling in love during this time period is difficult but I wouldn’t really know based on the description of the setting they were in. It seemed more of what any teenager would go through; bullies at school and a tough relationship with a stubborn father. I wanted to hear more about the raids of the Seattle homes and what was going on at the camps. Everything fell into place too easily for this couple that it seemed unlikely. I mean Henry was actually able to somehow cross the internment camp’s security and spend the night at Keiko’s home? Impossible!

As my readers know, I am not too into romance novels but love historical fiction so this was a tough one to not enjoy. Too cookie cutter for me. However, if you are into that sort of material, I would suggest this because I did like how it was clean and appropriate. Overall a good book club book for all ages.


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