Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hotel On The Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Ford, Jamie Hotel On The Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
Ballantine see Random 2009 290p 24.00 978-0-345-50533-0 hs/adult

When possessions of interned Japanese-American citizens are unearthed from the basement of Seattle's recently renovated Panama Hotel, Henry reminisces about his childhood sweetheart and wonders what happened to her and her family. Just before the Japanese internment during W.W.II, 12 year old Henry befriends Keiko, another scholarship student at his all white private school. Both are ostracized and bullied by other students and work together in the school cafeteria to earn their keep. Henry is first-generation Chinese American; Keiko is of Japanese decent. Henry's father, a fervent Chinese nationalist shuns the Japanese, whose section of the city borders Chinatown. Keiko's family is fond of Henry and is supportive of their friendship. Their world is turned upside down as the Japanese-Americans are sent to internment camps. Forty years later, possessions of the Japanese Americans are unearthed from the basement of Seattle's newly renovated Panama Hotel. A recently widowed Henry reminisces about the times he and Keiko spent together and wonders what happened to Keiko and her family. His college age son tries to assist Henry in is quest to find out. This story, with chapters highlighting both Henry's childhood years in 1942 and his current (1982) life, creates a stunning portrait of life during the war era and how the internment destroyed Seattle's Japanese community and damaged families. This also a hopeful mystery that begs for a happy ending. This book is recommended for books of note and would be an excellent follow-up to Farewell to Manzanar. T. Weinraub

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