Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford is the story of Henry and Keiko, their friendship and innocent love during World War II. But this book is more than that, it is the story of a young Chinese American with his parents wishing him to be American while wanting him to follow Chinese traditions. It is the story of Seattle's Chinatown and Japantown (Nihonmachi) and the differences between the two, as well as the internment of Seattle's Japanese citizens. It is about forbidden love and friendship between two young Americans from different Asian backgrounds. All wound around the Seattle jazz scene. This book truly is about bitter and sweet, the joys and sorrows of life, the things we do for love and family as we come of age especially during a time of great tragedy. I though Henry's character was charming, both as a 12 year old boy and a 50 something man.
The book takes place in 1942 and 1986. I did find some rather inaccurate depictions in the 1986 chapters, especially referring to use of the internet and digital recordings/CDs. Otherwise this first book is a really pleasurable read.
The hotel in the book actually exists and does have on display the belongings of 37 Japanese families. After reading this book I'd like to go to the Panama Hotel to see the display and have tea in the hotel's tearoom.