I hope you all had a fabulous weekend and are enjoying Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet so far. The story definitely grew more exciting—and suspenseful—over the last 20 pages or so. I really like how Jamie Ford has organized the story; alternating chapters of Henry’s life in 1942 and then 44 years later, in 1986, works really nicely with the story line.
Young Henry clearly has a strange, almost militant relationship with his father, huh? I feel his embarrassment when he has to wear his “I am Chinese” button on his shirt every minute of the day. It’s interesting how his father has such pride for his heritage yet won’t let Henry speak a word of Cantonese in his own home, forcing Henry to learn English and attend an all-white elementary school. It’s clear that the relationship between father and son is going to be central throughout the novel. I hope that Henry and Marty grow closer as the book continues, especially now that is he engaged. And Henry’s seeming closure with Ethel’s death could lead to a stronger bond with his son.
Henry’s stern upbringing is definitely affecting how he has been acting since the lovely Keiko has entered the picture: sneaking out of the house and wrongly translating the business discussion between Mr. Preston and Henry’s father. It’s really sad to see how Keiko’s family and Japanese neighbors are being treated. I am not a history buff by any means (yet always fall for historical fiction like this) and I have never considered the effects on the Japanese community in the United States after Pearl Harbor. I can only imagine the imprint this left on Henry as a young boy. What I am really most excited for is to see how Keiko and Henry’s relationship unfolds and I am dying to know what items are mysteriously lurking in the Panama Hotel that Henry is hoping to uncover. What do you think it is?!
Looking forward to hearing what you all think so far! Next Monday we will cover through the chapter “Camp Anyway,” page 195.
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