Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet


Ford, J. (2009). Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet: A novel. New York: Ballantine Books. 9780345505330

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford | LibraryThing

I glimpsed a favorable review of this book in one of those professional journals we’re expected to read at work. With my interest piqued, I requested Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet through HCPL.

The book alternates between two different time periods. In 1986, Henry Lee approaches the Panama Hotel in Seattle just as the new owner brings to light items which Japanese Americans stowed before their evacuation to the internment camps. As a recent widower, Henry’s reverie is jolted and he springs into action, baffling his grown son Marty.

The other time period is 1942, just after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Twelve-year old Henry lives under the thumb of his very Chinese father. His parents no longer permit him to communicate in their tongue, insisting he must speak English always. Henry is on scholarship at the white kid school and he works in the cafeteria. Here, he meets the lovely Japanese-American Keiko Okabe. Their bond transcends ethnicity as they enjoy jazz and folks that don’t look exactly like themselves.

I enjoyed this story for the most part. Ford brought Henry, Marty, and Keiko to life brilliantly. The Seattle Jazz scene also fascinated me. It’s also easy to see what motivates the characters, even Henry’s nationalist father.

My only snide remark regards Marty participating in an Internet support group in his grieving. . . in 1986! Say what? I realize Marty’s a smart guy but this is too much of a stretch.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: YouTube – I Got it Bad and That Ain’t Good

Places : Seattle, Washington State, Idaho, New York City, China, Japan

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The Shack by William P. Young


God as you have never seen Him before.

God as you have never seen Him before.

Young, W. P. (2007). The shack: a novel. Newbury Park, Calif: Windblown Media.

The hostess of the Bible Study I attend each Tuesday determined that I, the librarian in the group, should choose a book for all of us to read for the summer. At the end of the season, the hostess wanted me to lead a discussion on the book I selected. Very quickly, my mom noticed The Shack by William P. Young. After I had read the first chapter on a website for the book, Mom and I quickly acquired the book. Soon, Mom had finished The Shack. Then, I was completely enthralled by this book myself.

The Shack is one book where a reader should start with the Foreword rather than skip to the first chapter. Here, the writer, “Willie” offers the reader a sketch of the protagonist, Mackenzie “Mack” Allen Phillips. Mack is a husband and a father of five children. While on a Labor Day weekend family camping trip with his three youngest children, his youngest child, Missy, is abducted. After seeing indications of Missy’s murder in an old shack, Mack feels The Great Sadness settle upon him. Four years later, Mack receives a letter from “Papa” (Mack’s wife, Nanette, calls God “Papa”). Papa invites Mack to the same shack for a weekend. When curiosity gets the best of Mack, Mack faces some of his darkest hours.

Overall, I was truly impressed by The Shack. I found Mack to be a sympathetic character. Also, I really appreciated Young’s writing style. I gather Young is a visual learner like me. I felt as though I could see perfectly the places and the situations where Mack walked. In addition, I like how this book presents questions such as: “Is it necessary to have a good, strong relationship with God?” “How can we be expected to forgive even the most heinous of crimes?” and “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Much controversy has taken place over this book, actually. Some stores do not even sell it for crazy views presented in The Shack. While I do not agree with everything said by the characters, I found many of the points made quite valid. In the end, The Shack is a work of fiction. Yet, one uneasy thing to do would be to forget this book. Like belief and trust, some of the events and concepts presented in The Shack take a Kierkagaardian Leap of Faith.

Five Out of Five Pearls

Places: Oregon, Nebraska, Heaven,