Customer Reviews for

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Average Rating 4
( 1859 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(855)

4 Star

(560)

3 Star

(273)

2 Star

(97)

1 Star

(74)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

Most Helpful Favorable Review

80 out of 87 people found this review helpful.

I completely and unashamedly fell in love with this book from the very beginning!

Hotel on the Corner of Butter and Sweet is Jamie Ford's beautifully written debut about Henry, a Chinese American growing up in Seattle during World War II. Henry struggles with his identity, his stubborn father, and when his best friend, a Japanese American girl, is se...
Hotel on the Corner of Butter and Sweet is Jamie Ford's beautifully written debut about Henry, a Chinese American growing up in Seattle during World War II. Henry struggles with his identity, his stubborn father, and when his best friend, a Japanese American girl, is sent to an internment camp he has to decide between love and loyalty.

This book is like a little slice of history complete with the sights, sounds and smells of Seattle during World War II, jazz music, salty sea air, and the sweet taste of duck sausage. There are so many themes touched in this story that it should feel overly crowded: first love, father-son relationships, immigrants, racism, and looming over everything World War II. Yet the story flows around and through Henry seamlessly and it is easy to find yourself deep in his world.

I completely and unashamedly fell in love with this book from the very beginning. At first I raced through it eager to see what would become of Henry, later I slowed my progress wanting to prolong my time with him and anxious about his ending. When the end came it was perfect, bitter and sweet, but so satisfying too.

posted by Frisbeesage on February 3, 2009

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Bitter and sweet indeed

This book was just good. At times long and slow but still keeping me interested in the story. Henry's character is very well developed and I really liked how, as his character was developing also was the story. I only gave it three stars because the writing is a little ...
This book was just good. At times long and slow but still keeping me interested in the story. Henry's character is very well developed and I really liked how, as his character was developing also was the story. I only gave it three stars because the writing is a little heavy at times, it was almost as if the story and Henry were too much for the writing abilities of the author but...it didn't keep me from liking the story, the setting and characters.

posted by 4176825 on October 21, 2010

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 855 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 43
  • Posted February 3, 2009

    I completely and unashamedly fell in love with this book from the very beginning!

    Hotel on the Corner of Butter and Sweet is Jamie Ford's beautifully written debut about Henry, a Chinese American growing up in Seattle during World War II. Henry struggles with his identity, his stubborn father, and when his best friend, a Japanese American girl, is sent to an internment camp he has to decide between love and loyalty. <BR/><BR/>This book is like a little slice of history complete with the sights, sounds and smells of Seattle during World War II, jazz music, salty sea air, and the sweet taste of duck sausage. There are so many themes touched in this story that it should feel overly crowded: first love, father-son relationships, immigrants, racism, and looming over everything World War II. Yet the story flows around and through Henry seamlessly and it is easy to find yourself deep in his world. <BR/><BR/>I completely and unashamedly fell in love with this book from the very beginning. At first I raced through it eager to see what would become of Henry, later I slowed my progress wanting to prolong my time with him and anxious about his ending. When the end came it was perfect, bitter and sweet, but so satisfying too.

    80 out of 87 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Review of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

    Wow. I mean.. wow. This is another of those books that you see so much hype about and think there's no way it could be as good as people are saying. Just a moment while I pause and wipe away the tears.

    I've read my fair share of World War II stories. I've seen it from all sorts of angles, but this was the first time I'd seen this side of it. It's so easy to get caught up in what was going on in Germany ( and there's nothing wrong with that) that other things lose the spotlight when they don't deserve to. The treatment of the American Japanese was horrifying and heartbreaking and this book spotlights that in the most intimate of ways.

    This is a love story, most of all. Not your typical harlequin romance, but a story of deep, abiding love. There's patience, hope, despair and more all wrapped up in the love that begins between, of all people, two 12 year old children.

    I read this book only because the book club I plan on attending for the first time tomorrow has chosen it for their book of the month. Even if I don't enjoy the club I'll be thankful to it for introducing me to this story. It's a beautiful one and one I'll be reading again.

    30 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 27, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    TRULY AMAZING!

    This book does a terrific job exploring the history and attitudes of this time period and ethnic neighborhoods. This is a story of a culmination of cultures, also politics, loyalty, language, expectations, honor and dreams. The story, set in Seattle, begins in 1986 with the discovery of relics stored in the basement of the Panama Hotel by American citizens of Japanese heritage. These treasures lead Henry Lee, a Chinese American whose best friend was Japanese, to reminisce about that time, in flashbacks to the 40's. Wonderful relationships in Henry and Keiko, Henry and his father, Henry's mother and his father, and Henry and his own son are deep and touching. This story reveals the best and worst in relationships, the way we regard others, and the way we catch ourselves acting like our parents with our own children. This is a truly amazing read!

    Some other special ones: THE LAST CHILD, ON FOLLY BEACH, EXPLOSION IN PARIS, LIFE IN DEFIANCE.

    20 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    With Love and Loyalty You Cannot Go Wrong

    What a lovely story! I enjoyed this book from cover to cover and found it very moving, inspiring, and touching. The characters jumped off the pages with their diverse backgrounds and various perspectives. This author included heroes and villains, allies and enemies, and with the turn of every page you are enriched with history from one of the darkest moments in Japanese-American history. I think WWII was such a unique event in time in the sense that so many cultural backgrounds were affected and the perspectives from these groups obviously varied on so many levels.

    Henry and Keiko were such lovable characters. You will find yourself routing for them throughout the entire story. You will want to squash the rude white American schoolchildren at Henry's school. You can vividly hear the music that Sheldon plays and you will want to scream at the top of your lungs at the traditionalist viewpoints of Henry's father. You will smell the sea-salty air and taste the bitter sweet ending. Full of emotion, inspiration, and perseverance - this is one of the best historical fiction books I have read!

    14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 12, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    It's Bitter, It's Sweet, It's a Must Read!

    HOTEL caught my heart, educated me, entertained my mind, and lived on way past the last page. A tale of Henry, a 12 year old Chinese boy who falls in love with a Japanese girl, Keiko.<BR/> <BR/>But the odds are against them, it is set during WWII in Seattle, and their love is a forbidden love. She and her family are herded up and removed to an internment camp, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. <BR/><BR/>HOTEL is more than a love story; it is a generational, father-son story, that emphasizes the differences between culture and era. Ford weaves in a rich emotional backdrop, a tormented time in history, the jazz scene of historic Seattle, and the inevitable human spirit-that even with broken dreams, one keeps moving forward. <BR/><BR/>And so it is also the story of Henry in the 1980s, facing the decisions he made as a teen, the love he lost, and his own generational and cultural differences with his own son. <BR/><BR/>When he walks by a newly renovated hotel during a press conference, he is caught between two worlds upon sight of a koi parasol-one he is certain belonged to his true love, Keiko. It was unearthed in the basement of the hotel, along with the belongings of many Japanese families forced to abandon their lives as they were forced into internment camps. And maybe, in that dusty basement, there would be a connection to his childhood, maybe a part of Keiko was among those belongings...<BR/><BR/>This book will be one you won't forget, and one you will be insisting all your friends read! It is great for all ages and explores a part of history we Americans often try to forget. <BR/> <BR/>It's numerous themes of love and conflict, racism and noble duty embedded with accurate historical context will thrill any book club, as it is perfect for discussion, and easy to read.

    11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Absolutely wonderful debut read

    The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford<BR/><BR/>The present time is 1986 in Seattle when we are first introduced to Henry Lee, a recently widowed Chinese American. While he witnesses a press conference at the old Panama Hotel, the simple sight of a koi umbrella discovered in the basement by the new hotel owner, takes him back mentally and emotionally more than 40 years to the 1940¿s. Told from his perspective as a man in his mid fifties and flashing back to when he was a boy of twelve, not only is this a coming of age story but it is also a story of the pangs and heartbreak of first love and the enduring essence of friendship. Easily combining a young love story with a war story, Ford weaves a magical tale.<BR/><BR/>Young Henry Lee was caught between two worlds, his American side and his Chinese side. At home from the age of 12 he was told to only "speak your American" and not the Cantonese that his parents spoke. His father, a proud Chinese Nationalist, wanted his son to become Americanized so he sent him to an all white prep school. Unfortunately, Henry found himself ostracized and taunted due to his Chinese heritage. It didn¿t help that his father made him wear an ¿I am Chinese¿ button, thinking it would protect his son from the burgeoning anti Japanese feeling after the attack on Pearl Harbor. When a young Japanese girl, Keiko Okabe, began work in the school cafeteria with Henry, he found acceptance for who he was and it is this friendship that was at the heart of the story and what a wonderful;y bittersweet story it became.<BR/><BR/>Right after President Roosevelt signed the executive order for all Japanese to be rounded up and placed in internment camps, a lot of families hurriedly placed belongings in the basement of the old hotel for storage. Keiko and her family were forced to leave their home taking only what they could carry. Henry was heartbroken as he and Keiko had become very attached to each other despite the anti Japanese sentiments belonging to Henry¿s father and many others in the community of Chinatown. <BR/><BR/>Ford moves the story along seamlessly between the years bringing in age old themes of father-son conflicts. Henry and his father had a hard time communicating as has Henry and his son Marty. Another element of the story is Henry¿s lifelong compassionate and caring friendship with Sheldon, a member of the Seattle jazz scene. The search for a treasured memory from the jazz era is a key component to help Henry open up communications with his son Marty.<BR/><BR/>Ford does an admirable job with his heartbreaking look at racial and cultural discrimination in a time of war, while conversely incorporating characters with giving hearts and compassionate natures. Ford writes with a simple clarity and his wonderful descriptions puts readers right into the location. It¿s so easy to get into the heads of all the characters, I could feel the fear and sense of helplessness from them and almost hear Henry¿s heart beat as he says goodbye to Keiko at the camp. So emotionally charged, it will pull at your heartstrings from beginning to end. I¿m sure this short review does not do this book justice, but suffice it to say, I loved almost every character and the book as a whole.The characters I didn't like was solely because they were simply unlikeable in nature. Jamie Ford is a very talented author of whom I am sure we have not heard the last. If you only read one debut novel this year, it should definitely be this one.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Promise and Hope

    This is a love story with several different slants. It is a young love that lasts in very trying circumstances. It is a love between two people who weren't supposed to love each other. It looks like a love lost.

    The story is told from two points of view. The main character is an aging man who is telling the story that happened forty years before, but the story moves back and forth between the 1940's and the 1980's to give a clear picture, of what actually occurred and how it affected Henry, the main character.

    It is an exploration of the Chinese-American and the Japanese-American culture in the 40's with the Caucasian and Black view points inserted from time to time.

    I found it well researched and a very interesting read as well as a touching story.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    bitter-sweet tale of real people in a wounded world

    As book titles go, Jamie Ford's Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is intriguing, but long. I wasn't sure what to make of it when I saw the book lying on a friend's table, but I picked it up (I find it hard to resist books) and opened at a random page. Straight away I was transported to a scene where an elderly man is meeting his son, past and present worlds and cultures colliding, missed chances dancing lightly between the words. I was hooked and quickly made my way back to page one, eagerly finishing the book during my visit and telling my friend she really has to read it.
    In 1942, twelve-year-old Henry was the only non-white student attending Raleigh elementary school in Seattle. Since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Henry's father, who spoke only Chinese, forbade his son to speak anything but English in the home, and made him wear a badge declaring "I am Chinese." But that didn't stop white students treating Henry as the enemy, or local Chinese kids mocking him as "white."
    Henry's father would have been appalled to learn that in Japantown, just a few streets away, the Okabe family were deciding to entrust their daughter Keiko to the same school system. Henry's family did not associate with Japanese, not after the way they'd bombed the Chinese homeland over the years.
    Isolation, bullying and shared kitchen duties bring the two Asian American children together. Music and young love binds them. But the country's mis-communications are mirrored at home. Keiko's neighbors, so American they scarcely see differences in ethnicity, are hated, while Henry's family, still planning to complete their son's education back in China, are safe except for the unfortunate shape of their eyes. And the street musician Sheldon waits for a break.
    Henry's father left home at thirteen. As his birthday approaches, Henry ponders the meaning of home and family, and the country goes to war against its own. But in 1986 everything has changed. Possessions left behind by the Japanese are unearthed in an old hotel, reawakening the past and revitalizing the present for Henry and his son. The man who couldn't speak to his father learns at last to speak to his son. Family means more than two parents and an obedient child. And love still crosses those all too human barriers to reveal the music of the soul.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2012

    MyReview of the Week! #1: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

    This was an amazing book! It has me wanting to visit Chinatown and Nihonmachi again (and again and again and again). Since I live around the Greater Seattle Area, this was a great read for me. If you have the chance, go to Seattle's International District. You can see where Henry lived, where the Panama Hotel is, and you can go buy unfortunate fortune cookies! They were so delisious!
    So anyways, the book is about Henry, and it has switching views of when Henry was a kid and adult. I sincerely loved it and recommend it to anyone, old and young!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 19, 2010

    I unexpectedly loved this book!

    My book club choose this book and something about it left me unmotivated to begin reading it; maybe it was the title or the subject matter, but I feel in love instantly. It was written in a very free and accessible manner but clearly written by a thoughtful intelligent writer. I did not think I would relate to a young Chinese boy, but I stood beside him throughout his journey and thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2010

    Lovely story set in WWII Seattle that is a timely read today.

    If you like historically accurate stories you will thoroughly enjoy this book about a Chinese American boy and his best friend, a Japanese American girl, during 1942. This story itself is a great coming-of-age-tale for Henry. And there were many facinating insights into their cultures, but also insights into the racial profiling and racial prejudices that they endured. Well researched and written. And a very timely read and point of discussion for issues that we are facing today.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 29, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    LOVELY!

    A Beautiful Story of Forbidden Love. is told as a split-narrative, the early years being 1942-45, the final year being 1986. It is the story of a young Chinese boy, Henry who meets and falls in love with Keiko, a beautiful Japanese girl. It is an innocent love that lasts forever. Lovely

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2012

    Highly Enjoyable

    This was a great read. I recommend it. At times I had trouble putting it down. It is definitely a bitter-sweet story about love in the turbulent times of war.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    Highly recommended

    Im super picky about books and i couldnt put it down, great book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2012

    Loved it!

    What a beautiful amazing book! Not only is it a part of history that I did not know about, there was such an innocence told of first love.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    WOW!

    I loved this story. It's told in a "then and now" voice of a young boy who's coming of age and the old man he becomes. I laughed, loved, and cried my heart out. I could hardly put the book down as I eagerly awaited each next chapter. One of the best stories I've read in a while.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Sweet escape

    Such a sweet book that describes an era that many of us never learned about in History class. Yet it wove a feeling of love, forgiveness and hope throughout. I hated to have it end!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2009

    A Wonderful Story

    This is a book to read, keep..or give away..and re-read in the future. It is beautifully written with memorable characters...It presents a picture of the World War II era that I was unaware of. A great book that stays with one long after the last page is finished.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2009

    Excellent and utterly charming read

    I actually e-mailed the author to tell him how much I enjoyed this book. I had never done such before. He actually responded within a few hours. I can barely wait for his next book which he is in the process of writing.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2013

    Gorgeous

    To be brief, it is a wonderful read, one I could hardly stand to put down. The author pulls the reader in and grips them to the end. I loved Henry's story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 855 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 43