#BookBeginnings Hotel On The Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Today we’re starting the next book in The Bestseller Code 100 challengeHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Our discussion begins on Monday, July 10, 2017.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!



Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

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Summary:  In Jamie Ford’s debut novel, main character Henry Lee discovers an artifact that takes him back to Seattle’s Japantown just before the beginning of World War II. He had been friends with a Japanese American girl who was sent to an internment camp with her family and he believes the artifact belongs to her.

First Sentence:

Old Henry Lee stood transfixed by all the commotion at the Panama Hotel


For some reason this novel sounds very familiar to me, but I don’t think I’ve read it. I have read something similar about young friends separated when soldiers rounded up Japanese Americans and sent them to internment camps. In that book, the Japanese family had a farm that grew strawberries. Anyone recognize it?

The first sentence didn’t excite me much. Initially, I wasn’t sure whether the Panama Hotel was actually in Panama or somewhere else (it’s in Seattle). I was also put off by the use of the word old, which seemed simultaneously ambiguous and insulting. Imagine my dismay when in the next paragraph the author uses the word “old” four times, although in different contexts.

“The old Seattle landmark was a place he’d visited twice in his lifetime. First when he was only twelve years old, way back in 1942 — The war years” he liked to call them. Even then the old bachelor hotel had stood as a gateway between Seattle’s Chinatown and Nihonmachi, Japantown. Two outposts of an old-world conflict — where Chinese and Japanese immigrants rarely spoke to each other, while their American-born children often played kick the can in the streets together. “

Have you read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet?  Does the first line entice you to keep reading?


What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion for The Bestseller Code Reading Challenge, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time after the discussion begins.

The next book is number 82. The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison (2013) – Discussion begins July 24, 2017
Genre: Psychological Thriller


  1. Bev

    I think I’ve seen someone share this before. But it looks really good, so thank you for reminding me. I’m reading Difficult Women by Roxanne Gay.

  2. Anne@Headfullofbooks

    I read and like the HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET. My husband and I went to this very inconspicuous landmark for a cup of tea last year and stood and look down through a glass panel to the basement where boxes and items were placed back in the 1940s and never recovered. The book was also our all-county-read book and the author came to culminating event. I though his talk was interesting and enlightening about the research he did for the book. What a shameful piece of American history.

    My Friday Quotes

    • Roberta

      Must have been eerie to see people’s belongs left like that. Thank you for the background. Yes, it was shameful.

  3. Laurel-Rain Snow

    I have been eyeing this book for a while…I would definitely keep reading. Thanks for sharing, and for visiting my blog.

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