Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet


Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Cheaper Than a Cup of Coffee

4 out of 5 stars

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Product Description

When artifacts from Japanese families sent to internment camps during World War II are uncovered in Seattle, Henry Lee embarks on a quest that leads to memories of growing up Chinese in a city rife with anti-Japanese sentiment.

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4 out of 5

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  • There Once Was a Girl

    4 out of 5

    Written by , Posted on at 12:40:28 PM

    After burying his wife of many years, Henry Lee finds himself adrift. Unable to communicate with his son, who is equally reticent with him, he becomes consumed with learning what happened to a Japanese American girl he knew from years ago when Henry was just a teenager. “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” shines a narrow but intense spotlight on one of the shameful parts of American history. We are given one man’s description of what it meant to have a different face from your neighbors, to be sent away and never seen again, to be embarrassed, ashamed or fearful of one’s heritage. Japanese immigrants and their children were sent away to camps. Mercifully, they were not murdered wholesale like the unfortunate Jews under Nazi Germany but the many years spent away meant many never came back to their former neighborhoods. The author gives us brief snapshots of these vanished lives—a wedding photo, baby shoes in bronze, a bamboo parasol—and the prose that accompanies these is as spare in detail. This paucity of conversation is a theme that runs throughout this entire novel: the inability of foreigners to communicate with English-speaking Americans; the reticence between father and son; the shyness of a growing boy unable to speak his true feelings. Such restraint means we as well as the protagonist must fill in the lines and interpret what is not said. The beauty of such novels is that we, the readers, must think and not merely read blindly.