Book Thirty: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Jamie Ford



I grew up on Bainbridge Island, which was the home of the very first Japanese Americans who were interned during the Second World War. As I went through school on Bainbridge, we learned explicitly about this history, often first-hand from those who were interned themselves, as several of my teachers were children during the war. I've seen "Visible Target" I don't know how many times. Maybe I took it for granted that everyone knew about this horrible period of American history. When I went to the east coast for college, I couldn't believe how many of my well-educated classmates didn't even know about the internment of the Japanese Americans. They weren't taught this in history class and had no idea that such a huge number of American citizens were treated as criminals during the war. Yikes, right?

So, even though I have a particular interest in this time period and bit of history, I found this book so very, very (very) terrible. I mean it, this book downright stinks. I love that it's trying to shed light on and bring exposure to a crappy aspect of our country's history, but I just can't abide by the worst writing I've read in ages, terrible stilted dialogue, and the tritest of trite plots. I mean... ugh. I found myself thinking this read and felt more like a YA novel, but that's almost not doing YA novels the justice they deserve. Seriously, whatever you do, don't subject yourself to this book. There are so many other either enjoyable or educational ways to learn about Japanese American history that there's no reason to give this dreck one second of your time.

2 Comments:

Blogger bellcurves said...

It is definitely a chapter of American History that doesn't get covered in high school history classes as much as it should, if at all. I don't think my 11th grade AP US history class really ever talked about it. Maybe the school year came to an end, and in the last several weeks of school, we only got a cursory glance at WW II and beyond, which is a shame, but that's another topic (on how inadequately some subjects are taught in K12). My first real exposure to the topic was actually at college, in a class called "American History 1865 to present" (taught by Daniel Czitrom). It certainly sounds like you got a unique and more in-depth look than many into this period of history thanks to your Bainbridge Island childhood. Did you ever have author David Guterson as a teacher? I know from his bio (on my "Snow Falling On Cedars" book jacket) that he used to teach English on Bainbridge Island.

July 14, 2011 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger arajane said...

Yes, David Guterson taught at my high school. I don't think I ever had him as a teacher, but it's a pretty small school and he's quite well-known on the island. And also a nice guy!

July 14, 2011 at 11:05 AM  

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