Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

When I was in tenth grade, Mr. McKinney, my English teacher, assigned a research paper. I can't remember if there were any restrictions on the choice of topic, but I do remember not being able to decide on one. When you can't decide on a topic, your punishment is that the teacher assigns the topic for you. Mr. McKinney told me to do my research paper on "Japanese Internment Camps during World War II". It didn't sound like a very exciting topic. However, as I got into it, I was saddened and heartbroken for the people who had immigrated to the United States, had children who were American citizens, and yet were evacuated from their homes.

That is the backdrop for this book, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. It is a lesson in American history, but more than that, it is a love story between a Chinese-American boy named Henry and a Japanese-American girl named Keiko.

They become friends at school in Seattle just prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Their budding romance is threatened when Keiko and her family are suddenly whisked away to an internment camp. Henry finds a way to visit Keiko until she is moved further inland to Idaho. After that, he visits once and promises to never forget her. He doesn't understand why Keiko stops writing since he writes to her faithfully. Later he finds out that his father, who is vehemently against the Japanese, has been stopping delivery of his letters.

Half of the story takes place in 1986 just after Henry's wife, Ethel dies of lung cancer, and the other half of the story is set between 1942-1945.

I loved this book. I cried at the ending. I highly recommend it!

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