Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ford, Jamie (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet)

[An Early Reviewer copy from LibraryThing. Thanks LT!]

For a first novel, this is a good effort. By no stretch, a great effort, as it pretty much follows the mold for every love-lost-then-regained book I've ever read. But its setting makes it worth the read-- Seattle in 1942 just after Pearl Harbor and as the Japanese internment camps were being built.

It's clear that Jamie Ford is writing from experience, that of himself, his father and his grandfather. The many descriptions of life for Henry as a Chinese-American boy, the environs of the International District in Seattle, and the early jazz recordings of the time give the book a flavor that keeps it from being wholly trite.

I'll confess to heartily enjoying the ending, no matter how obvious it was. Even though the adult Henry was never fully realized (why did he really keep so much from his son? and does their interaction actually change or just feel forced?), I still felt empathy for the character and his plight.

Don't run out and buy the book, but if you're looking for something light and entertaining, this might be an excellent choice.

No comments: