Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

A Novel

Book - 2009
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In 1986, Henry Lee joins a crowd outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has discovered the belongings of Japanese families who were sent to internment camps during World War II. As the owner displays and unfurls a Japanese parasol, Henry, a Chinese American, remembers a young Japanese American girl from his childhood in the 1940s--Keiko Okabe, with whom he forged a bond of friendship and innocent love that transcended the prejudices of their Old World ancestors. After Keiko and her family were evacuated to the internment camps, she and Henry could only hope that their promise to each other would be kept. Now, forty years later, Henry explores the hotel's basement for the Okabe family belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot even begin to measure. His search will take him on a journey to revisit the sacrifices he has made for family, for love, for country.
Publisher: ©2009.
New York :, Ballantine Books,, [2009]
Copyright Date: ©2009.
ISBN: 9780345505347
9780345505330
0345505336
Characteristics: 290 pages ; 25 cm.
Summary: In 1986, Henry Lee joins a crowd outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has discovered the belongings of Japanese families who were sent to internment camps during World War II. As the owner displays and unfurls a Japanese parasol, Henry, a Chinese American, remembers a young Japanese American girl from his childhood in the 1940s--Keiko Okabe, with whom he forged a bond of friendship and innocent love that transcended the prejudices of their Old World ancestors. After Keiko and her family were evacuated to the internment camps, she and Henry could only hope that their promise to each other would be kept. Now, forty years later, Henry explores the hotel's basement for the Okabe family belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot even begin to measure. His search will take him on a journey to revisit the sacrifices he has made for family, for love, for country.
Reading Program: Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.7 15.0 145257.

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rsoccer70
Sep 04, 2017

Honestly, if it wasn't for the fact that this is the "community read" for the high school at which I teach, I don't think I would have picked it up on my own. Although I feel the book starts too slowly, I was glad I pushed through to reach the more engaging aspects of the story. The narrative takes place during two time periods - the early part of WWII (about 1943) and Seattle of the late 1980's. The same character is the focus of both story threads - as a Chinese American pre-teen and then as a senior citizen. In the broadest way the story is about the internment of Japanese Americans and how this impacts the "first love" the main character has for a Japanese school-mate. This relationship strains the way the boy and his Chinese immigrant father interact while later in time this character and his own son struggle with their relationship in not dissimilar ways. This novel helped me to better understand the scope and impact of the dark example of nationalistic fear which led to putting American citizens in to what were essentially prison camps. I hope my students learned this as well and that we never, ever repeat this shameful event.

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