Book Review: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Ten plus inches of snow here today in Cleveland. It was a good day to curl up with a book. Fortunately for me, my copy of Jamie Ford’s debut novel arrived late yesterday. It isn’t enough to say I read the book, I consumed it.

The first chapter, set in 1986, shows us Henry Lee among the crowd in front of the long-ago boarded up Panama Hotel. The crowd is watching workers remove the items found in the basement. These items belonged to Japanese families sent to internment camps. I am immediately drawn in to the question of why this Chinese man is interested in the belongings of Japanese families, what deep rooted memory is stirred by the sight of the parasol. Truth be told, the next couple of chapters read a bit awkward to me. I’m not really even sure why, but I had trouble connecting with the characters. I pushed on and was rewarded when the writing, story and voice found cohesion and pace. From about chapter four on, I was fully hooked. I couldn’t put the book down.

You can read the full blurb over at Amazon, but this novel adeptly drops into another time in history and reveals so much about the lives of the individuals. Not only that but you have the great themes of parental approval, first love, and loss. I just wanted to post my view that this is an impressive debut, and it made me cry. I’m sure we will be hearing more about this title in the weeks and months ahead.

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