21—Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

As the story opens, it is 1986 and 1st generation Chinese American, Henry Lee (56) walks by the Panama Hotel which has been bordered up since 1942. The current owner has discovered a cache of belongings left there by the Japanese who were "relocated" to camps during the WW II.

Seeing some of the items brings back a flood of memories to Henry and the book moves back and fourth in time between 1942 and 1986. In 1942, Henry's father sent him to an all white school to be educated as an American. At the school, Henry meets Keiko, a Japanese girl of about the same age. They become fast friends and a budding romance develops.

Henry's father is vehemently anti Japanese so Henry must keep his friendship with Keiko from his parents. They share many adventures until Keiko and her family are sent away, but before they leave Henry promises to wait for Keiko.

They write letters to one another but unbeknownst to them, Henry's father (a powerful man in the Chinese community prevents there letters from getting through.

Henry eventually meets and marries Ethel Chen and they have a son Marty. Ethel has died from cancer before the story opens. With the help of Marty and his fiance, Henry fines Keikos belongings in the Panama.

This is an amazing story of friendship and love and honor. A wonderful read.

© Surveyor of the Passing Scene