May 2017 Book Group
Join librarian Meredith to discuss Jamie Ford's debut novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
Split between the 1940s and the 1980s, the story focuses on Henry Lee, a Chinese American growing up and living in Seattle's Chinese district. The story opens as the aged Henry comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left behind when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.
Henry is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko Okabe, a childhood friend whose Japanese American family was swept up in the evacuations. In the hotel's dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice - words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.
Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.
The Scandinavia Public Library chooses a book monthly (except for December) to read and discuss as a group on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m. Selections vary widely and readers are welcome to participate as frequently as they choose.