The year is 1986. Henry Lee has lived a very satisfying life. He married a nice woman and they had a son named Marty. Though Henry loves his wife and his son, he will never forget Keiko Okabe. The girl who many, many years ago first stole his heart. While out and about, Henry spots a crowd gathering in front of the Panama Hotel. The Panama has stood empty since about 1950 till a new owner took over the hotel. Henry can remember the only two times that he ever visited the Panama...it was back in 1942 otherwise known as the war years, when he was twelve and now. The Panama back then was considered to serve as a gateway between Seattle's Chinatown and Nihonmachi Japantown.
Henry learns the reason for the big crowd is because the owner has discovered down in the basement the possessions of about thirty-seven different Japanese families, who were taken from their homes and sent to camps or persecuted. Henry wonders if any of Keiko's belongings are among the stuff left behind. Henry and his son Marty are granted access to go through the items. Marty finds an old scrapbook that belonged to Keiko. Inside is a drawing of Henry as a boy. Henry is instantly transported back to 1942. When Henry was twelve he was accepted to Rainer Elementary, an all white school. It was very exclusive and his parents were really excited. His father wanted Henry to stop talking in Chinese and start speaking in English all the time.Henry's parents called the fact that he was getting an education "scholarshipping". While attending Rainer, Henry met Keiko.
Her and her family recently moved into the area. They are Japanese. Henry and Keiko formed a friendship not because they were both Asian but because they both wanted them same thing to be treated like everyone else. As Keiko and Henry spent more time with each other, his relationship with his family became strained to the point that his father pretty much disowned him. As time passed the government because leery that the Japanese would once again cause another Pearl Harbor incident. Orders were issued to round up all of the Japanese and sent them to camps. Camps like Camp Harmony. Henry was able to get a job working at Camp Harmony helping one of his teachers serve food to the people there. All the while hoping that he would once again be reunion with Keiko. Fast forward back to the present. Marty plans to help his father investigate what happened to Keiko.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a breathtaking and stunning piece of work by author Jamie Ford. It is so wonderful that it I can't believe that Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is Mr. Ford's debut novel. Henry and Keiko's story was so heart-wretching and filled with sorrow but at the same time their story is like a poem. It is something to be tresured forever. All you need is some tender, loving care. I am sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for Mr. Ford's next novel. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a winner.
About the Author:
Career-wise, Jamie went to art school in Seattle to become an illustrator, and ended up an art director/copywriter. He's won an embarrassingly large amount of meaningless awards including 400+ Addys, 7 Best-of-Shows, and his work has appeared in Adweek, Advertising Age, Graphis and Communication Arts. He also had a commercial appear on an episode of The U.K.'s Funniest Commercials inspired by an embarrassing incident with a bidet that he'd rather not go into right now.
On the writerly side, he won the 2006 Clarity of Night Short Fiction Contest, was First Runner-Up in the 2006 Midnight Road Reader's Choice Awards and was a Top-25 finalist in Glimmer Train's Fall 2006 Short Story Award For New Writers. He's been published in The Picolata Review, and his fiction is online at Flashing in the Gutters and Fictional Musings. He's also an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and a survivor of Orson Scott Card's Literary Bootcamp.
Jamie's debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet will be released by Ballantine--January 27, 2009.
On the personal side, he's the proud father of two boys and two girls. Yep, it's chaos, but the good kind of chaos.
For more information about the author or his work, please visit http://www.jamieford.com/