Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Wow. There's nothing I like better than a book that makes me think and makes me go on the internet and learn more about the scenarios I am reading about. This book made me do both. 

This book is about thirteen year old Henry who lives in Chinatown in the Seattle area in the early 40's. Henry's father is dead set against the family's nearby Japanese neighborhood and everyone in it. Everyone becomes paranoid against ALL things Japanese after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Henry witnesses this first hand during the war when Executive Order 9066 is issued and the only friend he has, Keiko, a young, innocent, Japanese girl, who happens to be an American citizen, is rounded up with her family and taken to one of the Japanese internment camps.

And so off to Google I went, reading what I could about our dark history when we jailed our own citizens out of fear. Amazing, frightening and not that long ago, if you think about it. 

But the other thing that was real in this book is the hotel in the title. The Panama Hotel sat as a gateway between the Chinese and Japanese neighborhood near Seattle. I was stunned to find out that it does exist and looked at pictures of that as well.  

The book alternates between the 40's when Henry is young and watching his world fall apart around him and current time, when Henry is dealing with the loss of his wife and also struggling with communicating with his grown son, Marty. 

I was RIVETED to this book. And not to give too much away, while many parts gave me chills, one specific part with Henry's friend, Sheldon had me in real tears. I haven't had a book touch me like this in a long time. 

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