Search This Blog

Monday, May 04, 2009

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Ford, Jamie. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

I looked forward to reading this ARC; both the title and the cover are enticing. The internment of Japanese citizens during WWII is a fascinating topic, and one that I've been interested in since reading Jeanne Wakatsuki's memoir, Farewell to Manzanar several years ago.

While the book provided a pleasant read, it did not measure up to my expectations. For the most part, I liked the characters, and the portions of the book that deal with the initial prejudice against and persecution of the Japanese are compelling...and terribly sad.

The scenes of Japanese-Americans burning photos, keepsakes, kimonos, and precious items that might connect them with Japan and thereby justify the seizure of their homes and property are particularly moving, and sadly, didn't prevent their eventual round-up and confinement.

Overall, however, the novel didn't quite coalesce. I'm afraid this is another book where my opinion will be in the minority...

Other reviews Two Kids and Tired, Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?,

Fiction. Historical fiction. 2009. 285 pages.
More on the internment of Japanese Americans:

The documentary The Cats of Mirakatani, the story of artist Jimmy Mirakatani's internment and the subsequent effects on his life gives some fascinating information about the internment process. I really enjoyed this documentary.

Farewell to Manzanar, Jeanne Wakatsuki's memoir, describes life in the Manzanar camp, the indignities suffered, and the attempts to make life as "normal" as possible. YA.
Added to my TBR list:


When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka.
Another look at life in the camps and the inevitable and lasting consequences even after being released.

Tall Grass by Sandra Dallas.
Based on a camp in Colorado, the is described as "part mystery, part historical fiction, part coming-of-age story."


Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese American Internment Camps by Mary Matsuda Gruenewald.
"In this eloquent memoir, she describes both the day-to-day and the dramatic turning points of this profound injustice: what is was like to face an indefinite sentence in crowded, primitive camps; the struggle for survival and dignity; and the strength gained from learning what she was capable of and could do to sustain her family."

Only What We Could Carry edited by Lawson Fusao Inada.
"The editor of this unusual anthology has drawn from a wealth of material: poetry, prose, biography, news accounts, formal government declarations, letters, and autobiography along with photographs, sketches, and cartoons that reflect the tragedy of the internment. Taken as a whole, it conveys the deep anguish felt by Japanese who defined themselves as citizens of the United States and yet lost their rights as citizens during a time of national fear.


  1. Thanks for linking to my review! It didn't work for me either, but you're right that those of us who didn't like it are in the minority!

  2. I was hoping you'd like the book. Darn. I won't hurry to read this one, but I do plan to read it, someday.

  3. I read a Pearl Buck novel called The Hidden Flower. A Japanese-American doctor and his family were given the choice of going into one of the camps or being sent to Japan. He chose Japan. His wife, who was actually Japanese, wanted to stay because she would've been with her friends there.

  4. Maybe the book by Pearl Buck will be a better choice for me. I'd seen this book around but probably won't read it.

    So sad what happened to American citizen's at their country's hand.

  5. Oh darn, I'm sorry it didn't quite live up to your expectations. I'm going to start this one soon for the book blog tour so let's see what happens. I actually have heard several mixed reviews about it so although I'm looking forward to it, I am going into it a bit more cautiously ;)

  6. I got a feeling from the descriptions of this book that it was one that wouldn't agree with me, so I didn't even try it.

  7. If you are interested in the internment of Canadian citizens of Japanese origin in Canada at the same time, you may want to take a look at the autobiographical novel "Obasan" by Joy Kogawa. :)

  8. I had high hopes on this one, too bad it didn't was what you wanted, perhaps I will feel teh same

  9. I was planning on getting this one eventually. It sounded like something I might enjoy.

  10. I like the title of this one too, Jenclair. :-)

    I am one of those who really liked the book. It was lighter than I expected though. I don't know if that's the right word for what I mean, but it's what comes to mind. It definitely dealt with heavy topics, but it also had a really sweet side to it--I guess that goes to show the title fits.

  11. Sorry this was a disappointing read for you. I've heard such good things about it and hope to read it soon for the WWII reading challenge I'm co-hosting. Would it be okay to link to your review on the book reviews page at War Through the Generations

    Diary of an Eccentric

  12. Great blog you got here. It would be great to read a bit more about this theme. Thnx for giving that data.
    Sexy Lady
    English escorts