Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Jamie Ford, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, (New York: Ballantine Books, 2009)
I don’t get around to reading many of the books that show up on the New York Times Bestseller List. I figure that if everyone else is reading the books, they don’t need my reading to be successful and I like to develop my own quirks about my reading. So it took about 4 years for me to get around to reading this little volume that had been sifting around our house since Susan read it. It isn’t a bad book.
It isn’t a great novel, either.
It tells an important story about a chapter in American History that is often glossed over or left untold. The injustices perpetrated upon our own citizens in the name of security in the Second World War have definitely been under reported. The lack of general public awareness of these injustices have allowed injustices to be perpetrated in more modern times, including in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the 9-11 attacks. Unfortunately, a novel may not be the best way to tell the story.
In the end this book simply pushes the story too far. By the end of the book there are just too many improbable connections and reconnections to make the story unbelievable. I know that it takes a suspension of reality to read any novel, but we just aren’t sold that there can be an interim love and that the feelings would not change through all of the circumstances of the story. Had the final reunion not been included the story might have seemed more real. Because the story does not seem real, it undersells the real message about the injustices of our country that are a part of our real history.
That’s too bad. In the end, the book is a bit of a disappointment.