ISBN-13: 9780345505330
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publshed: January 2009
290 pgs

When Henry Lee sees a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, this brought him memories about his past and the war years. Besides the memories, what most intrigued him about the Panama Hotel is after it had been closed for decades, now it has a new owner and that the belongings left by some Japanese families during the WWII are discovered.

Henry Lee felt his heart race upon this discovery, and this is where the story begins as the chapters alternate between the present and the past.

Moving backwards and back during the '40s, young Henry comes from a traditional Chinese family. His father is very much obsessed with the war in China, and he wants the best for Henry by getting him into Rainier Elementary but Henry is not happy because he feels he does not belong anywhere (the white kids ignore him and the Chinese thinks he is more American than Chinese anyway). But none of this really matters after he met Sheldon, a black musician and an American Japanese girl named Keiko Okabe. Henry feels they are the one who really understand his feelings and it is not surprising that their friendship blossoms quickly. And it does not take long for Henry to fall in love with Keiko. Nevertheless, their happiness is a short-lived one as they have to face the cruelty of war and the Okabes, like any other Japanese families, are being forced to leave home and stay into internment camps out of security. Other than this, Henry's father is also not too happy about their relationship as he somewhat felt betrayed having his son to befriend a Japanese, even though Keiko is an American citizen.

Nonetheless, Henry feels he is old enough to make his own decisions (he is thirteen then) and with Keiko and her family being swept into internment camps, he could only communicate with her via mails and hope that the war will end sooner so they could see each other again. Unfortunately, fate and time have a way in creating a distance and that is where Henry lost contact with Keiko until the discovery of the belongings in the Panama Hotel has once again caused a ripple in Henry's heart after these years.

Now a widower and with the assistance from his son, Marty and his future daughter-in-law, Henry search the hotel basement hoping he could find something belonging to the Okabes and a long lost item he and Keiko used to share, while never giving up hope about meeting her again.

I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed reading this book. There are so many things about this story: love, friendship, family and war... that left a deep impression on me. The exchanges between father and son (Henry's father and Henry, and as well as Henry and Marty) also tell the readers about the gap between them and how time has changed everything.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is one great reading experience and I am very glad I bought it after its release even though I rarely buy a hardcover (due to its bulkiness and inconvenience to carry around). And when Tracee from Pump Up Your Book Promotion asked me if I want to review this book, I said yes and thinking what good timing it is.

I want to thank Jamie Ford for the wonderful book, and also thanks to Tracee for the opportunity to be part of the blog tour.

Other reviews:
A Comfy Chair and a Good Book
Bookgirl's Nightstand
Bookworm’s Dinner
Devourer of Books
Educating Petunia
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?
Lesley’s Book Nook
Medieval Boomworm
Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Stephanie's Written Word
Stone SouP
The Biblio Brat
The Book Lady’s Blog
Trish's Reading Nook
(Let me know if I have missed yours.)

17 Responses
  1. Julia Says:

    This is an interesting review, Melody. This made me want to pick up the book. I wish I did when I had that chance few months ago, after a lady working at Walden bookstore suggested me to buy and read it. I know I have said I will buy it eventually, but maybe I buy it as quick -- now that I've read your review :)

    Great review by the way!

  2. Beth F Says:

    I've been wanting to read this for a while. Glad to know how much you liked it.

  3. Sandy Nawrot Says:

    There are only a handful of books out there that don't fit into any of my reading challenges but I MUST read. This is one of them. I'm going to get there at some point. I've not read ONE BAD THING about this book. As always, awesome review!

  4. Liara Covert Says:

    The Chinese-American flavor of this book is especially intriguing considering the time period of the novel and the hints of fascinating details to come in the rest of the book. This reminds me a bit of a fabulous book called Falling Leaves: Memoir of An Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah

  5. Jamie Ford Says:

    Hi Melody, thanks for the lovely review!

  6. Stephanie Says:

    I really enjoyed this book (and am giving a copy away on my blog)!

  7. Iliana Says:

    Wonderful review, Melody! I loved Henry's exchanges with his father (as limited as those were). It showed the struggle of the younger generation with the older and of course a new generation in an adopted country. So glad you were part of the book tour :)

  8. Darlene Says:

    Nice review Melody. I've been wanting to read this one for a while. It sounds like such a great story. I'm glad you liked it so much.

  9. Melody Says:

    Julia - Thanks! I hope you'll get this book soon!

    Beth - I hope you'll like it if you get to it.

    Sandy - Thanks! I can't wait to hear your thoughts!!

    Liara - I love everything about this book, especially the Asian setting. I haven't read Falling Leaves: Memoir of An Unwanted Chinese Daughter but I'll be sure to look out for it. Thanks!

    Jamie - Thanks for stopping by my blog! I hope you've a new release for us soon. :)

    Stephanie - This book is wonderful, isn't it? And thanks for telling us about your giveaway. :)

    Iliana - Thank you! I just love reading about the different generations, and not to mention the cultures too!

    Dar - Thanks! I really enjoyed reading this story! I hope you'd read it soon. :)

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Lovely Review Melody. This book is on it's way to me and I just can't wait :)

  11. S. Krishna Says:

    Great review! I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I haven't quite decided whether I'm going to read it or not, but your review was lovely.

  12. Alice Says:

    Very nice, Melody. I love the cover! I'm in the mood for thrillers right now and when that's over, I think I'd look into this one. :D

  13. So glad you loved this one, Melody! I found it to be a really moving read--and the cover is so gorgeous!

  14. Mari Says:

    I read and reviewed for the Blog Tour as well. I loved the book and enjoyed it quite a bit. Great reiew.

  15. This was a good one! Great review.

  16. Melody Says:

    Violet - Thanks! I can't wait to hear what you'll think of it!

    Swapna - Thank you! I hope you'd read this book soon!

    Alice - I love the cover too! Let me know once you've got this book! ;)

    Trish - It's indeed a bonus that this cover is gorgeous and that the story is great too!

    Mari - Thanks, Mari! I'm glad you were part of the book tour too! :)

    Diane - Thank you! :)

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Nice post as for me. I'd like to read more about this topic.
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