16 March 2012

House On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet by Jamie Ford

House on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet-- 4 Stars

I picked this book up a few years ago and read so far into it then became distracted and left the book on the shelf for some time. I'm glad that it was recommended that I pick it up again. Such a lovely story, so many emotions in one book! Love, joy, anger, confusion, pain and back to joy again.

We meet Henry, a Chinese boy in Seattle. He falls in love with a girl, Keiko. This is out of the question for several reasons not the least of which her being Japanese and Pearl Harbour is not a distant memory. Henry and Keiko are friends, no matter what his family and the government say. So when the government takes the Japanese people and ships them inland to "interment camps", they continue their friendship, for a time anyway.

Fast forward forty years, Henry is now a widower and his son is at university. Life has been kind to him for the most part, but its also given him pain. His wife has died of cancer and the past has come back to haunt him. An old hotel is being refurbished, the contractors have found a stash of items dating back to those terrible days of 1944 when America was at war with Japan, a time when innocent families put their precious belongings in the basement to save them from looters. Henry recognizes a parasol from his long lost Keiko.

And thus the story begins. Mr Ford writes a wonderful story in which he goes between Henry's past in 1944 and his present in 1986. A part of American history that most people either don't know or don't mention, the interment camps. People, second generation American citizens, were packed up and shipped off to camps around the country, treated as little more then cattle. There were some at the time that viewed them as mistreated human beings, convicted without a court hearing, without justice. Some went home again, most relocated to other areas, never returning to their homes again and starting over.

I couldn't put my book down and had to finish last night, in spite of the raging head ache. I was left with a feeling of having completed a wonderful tale of more then joy and pain, bit one of hope... always hope.


  1. This book sounds fascinating! I had no idea what was being done to the Japanese in America during the war until I saw an episode of Cold Case that referred to it.

    I'm definitely adding it to the list!

    1. I knew of the history and it only served to infuriate me. My mother mentioned it years ago, then I saw a documentary as well.