Customer Reviews for

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Average Rating 4
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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

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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

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2013

    Read in one day

    This book is now in my top 5 of all time fav books, what an amaxing story!,,,

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2013

    If you've ever lost track of a love...it's a must read!

    Very nicely written and well-researched. Turns the light on a period in American history that may be swept under the rug and ignored. Reminds us once again that real people were involved in this tragic event. Ignorance,fortitude and love, hope and tolerance...it's all there!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2012

    Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet

    Loved the story; made you feel you were living every event with each character. A love story with lots of turns of events; shocked how Henry's father does the things he does to his son and says 'l did it for you". Yah right!! The book is also about history and the city of Seattle. Snuggle up with a blanket and don't foget to have the tissue close by.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 5, 2010

    Bitter That Ends With Sweet

    This is a beautifully constructed novel set in the midst of a sad and bitter moment in American and world history. Through the eyes of two youngsters, a Chinese boy and a Japanese nisei girl on the brink of their teenage years, we encounter the baseless fears that led to America's internment of the Japanese population on the West Coast and the prejudices toward and within the Asian community of Chinese and Japanese alike. Through the eyes of the man the boy becomes, we see the effects of these events on their lives some forty years later. As the book moves back and forth between the two eras, our insight into the characters grows and develops as they grow and develop. Unlikely catalysts are a wise black jazz musician, no stranger to prejudice himeslf, and a gruff cook who cannot bear for anyone to see her human side. I recommend this book as highly as I have ever recommended a novel. It is superb.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Touching and Well Researched

    I love historical fiction for the simple reason that I can learn while being entertained. This story draws the reader in from the first chapter. The transition between past and present is smooth. Other than the basic history of the events, I didn't know much about the personal struggles of the Japanese families interned in the 1940's. I found myself longing to remain in Henry's younger years despite the challenges of prejudice. Even as he faced each incident of prejudice or family expectation, he did so with a hopefulness that is unique to the young. I loved the story, the characters, the presentations of facts and was surprised by the touching ending. I understand that the book received some criticism for its somewhat happy ending. I think that's preposterous. Tragic endings abound in real life. I like that the author rewards our reading loyalty with a hopeful ending.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2010

    On a par with "Snow Falling on Cedars"-i.e. a winner and heartstring tugger

    This is a compelling read and poignant commentary on a history that should not be forgotten. You cry with the characters and wonder at their perseverance. Done from an unusual point of view.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful story

    Once I picked it up to start reading, I stayed up all night to finish it. A beautiful story filled with interesting historical facts. It made me begin reading about the WWII Japanese internment. I knew of it, but not very much. It shocks me that only 60 years ago, our country did this. A great story. Highly recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    This is a Must Read

    This is one of the best books I've read in a very long while. In essence this is a love story, but this is much more than a romance novel. During WWII a sweet friendship developed between a Chinese American boy and a Japanese American girl who become separated when the girl and her family are sent to a Japanese interment camp. I was quickly drawn into the touching and poignant story involving prejudice and heartbreak.I felt educated and enlightened to read of a period I know so little about and I feel wiser from the experience.

    I strongly recommend Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet! It's a heartbreaking joy to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2009

    A Wonderful Read!

    I selected this for my book club and we all loved it. Very well written and thoughtful. We all loved that it touched on an element of American history that is often neglected, while weaving together stories of relationships. It also reads really fast - and I am NOT a fast reader. I totally recommend this!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Must Read!

    This story evolves after Henry, in 1986, sees the new owner of the Panama Hotel in Seattle, exit the closed up basement there, twirling an old Japanese parasol. It reminds him of the Japanese families who were herded up, told to leave their belongings behind, and sent to internment camps during World War II. And what happened to the little Japanese girl, Keiko, who stole his heart? It is the story of friendship, music, transcending the years, the races, prejudices and where it brings not just us, the American people, but Henry and Keiko....

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Love Prevails

    This book will capture you early and not let you go even after you finish it. The characters will be on your mind long after the book is finished. I love the trials and tribulations of Henry and how he made the best of the situation in everything he did. A very dedicated and loving human being. Loved this story!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2009

    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

    Very heartwarming book. It is not the usual book I read but was a very good read.I have recommened this book to my friends.

    Teresa Johnson

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A history everyone should know!

    A charming and poignant story of a past event in USA's history that should never have happened. This book provides us with a lesson in the perils and evils of discrimination fueled by fear. I loved this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2009

    Now My #1 Favorite Book

    I don't remember ever loving a book this much before. I have been an English teacher for 30 years, so I have read hundreds of books over the years. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is now my all-time
    favorite book. I was enthralled from page one, and I didn't want the story to end. I have passed the book around to friends and faculty, and all of them have loved it as much as I. There are no murders, no cursing, no sexual content, so I am recommending this book for anyone who loves to read ages 12 and up. I have ordered this book on-line and sent copies to my nieces ranging in age from 12 to 30 who live in other states. That is how this story affects you; you want everyone you love to experience it. I cannot wait for Jamie Ford's next novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    LOVED this book!

    This book is the best book I've read in a few years. Wonderful character development. I fell in love with the main characters and my heart was in the book from the beginning. I live in Seattle so the setting and history during this time period of Japanese Internment was intriguing to me. I can't wait to visit some of the local landmarks and the history museum to learn even more. I put this book down at the end and immediately told my husband that this book is a rare gem. I HIGHLY recommend it for a good read. What a great job by Jamie Ford. Please write more, Mr. Ford!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2009

    Great read

    Happy, sad, kind, mean, blatant, poignant, joyful, tearful, compassionate, detached. Just a few of the words that come to mind when trying to summarize all that I read in this historical, yet current, piece about a Chinese boy and Japanese girl in the northwest during the second world war, and the reliving of the past in 1958. This is a multi-layered work held together by the journey of the two main characters a tale which demonstrates that despite our differences, genetic or otherwise, we are travel the same path. Caught between traditions, prejudices, the experiences and desires of others, this soulful tale was a wonderful visit to a time, not so distant, when things were very different. It is a story of being honorable, dignified and open to the human condition while presented with easier options. I loved this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2014

    Great service!

    I have not read the book yet, but I am impressed with Barnes and Noble and their quick service. I will definitely order from them again!

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  • Posted October 13, 2014

    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an AMAZING book. I co

    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an AMAZING book. I could not stop reading it. The way the books goes from the past and the
     present is perfect. The story of how a Chinese boy with parents that do not agree with being friends with Japanese people. In the book,
     it shows how kids do not always agree with their parents. It was a good thing he didn't because he found his first love and his wife due 
    to losing his first love. Henry and Keiko go through so much together, making so many sacrifices and that is what makes the book so
     good.

    I would recommend this book to everyone. You will not be disappointed. 
    The book It definitely kept me excited to read more and more. Jamie Ford is
     an amazing writer. I am interested on if his other books are this good. 

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  • Posted October 13, 2014

    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a heartwarming gentle

    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a heartwarming gentle, enthusiastic novel. There are many emotions mixed around and a lot of hard thinking. As you read on throughout the book, you find out many interesting factors, shocking and even some heart touching moments.
    It starts off a situation going on due to mainly Pearl Harbor. Young Henry Lee is forced to go to an all-white school, where he is not only bullied but made fun of for working at the school. He meets a Sheldon, a jazz player from the streets. Sheldon is the one that notices his “I Am Chinese” button, his father makes him wear due to the war going on. Henry was put in an all-white school, at Rainer Elementary, where he had “scholarship” his way in by working at the school cafeteria. Henry faces a few troubles while being at Rainer, but it all starts to ease down when he meets Keiko Okabe, a Japanese American girl. Many struggles are upon them but Henry and Keiko are out to show everyone wrong.
    In my opinion of this novel, it is an inspirational history of young love. The beginning of the book brings no interest whatsoever. As you begin understanding what’s going on, it catches your attention. For some odd reason, while reading the book, it seemed as everything blurred out and I focused more. It draws the history into it, which gives us a little more feedback of what happened to the japs in that time. In conclusion, this novel is not what I expected, love may not always be there or from the person you expect it to be by.

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

    Posted October 13, 2014

    The novel Hotel in the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

    The novel Hotel in the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford is great book I can recommend to anyone that enjoys a historical and love story. This novel gives an example of forbidden love due to ethnicity and war between two countries in the (1940’s). Henry Lee is a Chinese American boy that was force to attend an all white school because of the Pearl Harbor attack; Henry’s father wanted him to be more American. While attending Rainer Elementary he meets Keiko Okabe, a Japanese American girl who happens to be there for the same reasons. Both their parents wanted them to be more American due to the war that was happening with Japan. This book teaches one the hardship of love because of ethnicity and culture Henry and Keiko had rough decisions to make. Keiko Okabe having to be taken out of Henry’s life brought Henry Lee to become a man. About forty years later Henry Lee hears about the Panama Hotel and how there were belongings found of thirty seven Japanese families, unlocking precious moments that took Henry in a new direction. Henry is now looking into the past and having hope that what he is in search for has not been at all lost.

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