April’s Book Club Meeting

Hello everyone.  How was the reading?  Are you as excited as I am to discuss this book?  Let me remind everyone what our Selection was for April:


Hotel on the corner of Bitter and Sweet

by Jamie Ford

The giveaway prize this month is a copy of next month’s Book Club selection.  I know it hasn’t been announced yet {and won’t be until the 2nd of May} but it is an amazing read and you will love it!!  I will send a hard copy of the book or a file for your e-reader.

To enter you can do one or all of the following.  The only requirement is that you be a follower.  This giveaway is to thank loyal book clubbers!!

  • You must be a follower
  • Participate in the discussion through the comments
  • Leave your review of the book
  • Answer some of the  discussion questions
  • Ask a question you had while reading
  • Answer someone’s question

Without further ado, here is my review:

I loved this book.  It was completely mesmerizing.  I felt like I was living on the home front during WWII.  I fell in love with Henry and Keiko and let’s not forget Sheldon.  Jamie Ford brought this era to life for me.  He gave me a first hand look into the relocation of Japanese Americans.  A time I must admit I didn’t know much about.  I remember learning that the U.S. had rounded up Japanese Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but it was always glossed over.  The impression I was left with was that there was good reason for the roundup and that Japanese Americans were treated well and conditions were nice.  This book opened my eyes to the reality of the situation.  It made me want to learn more about this time in our history. I can imagine a dark hotel basement filled  with dusty possessions.  Reminders of a forgotten time.  I longed {along with Henry} to hear how Keiko was doing and grew disheartened as letters were few and far between.  I felt betrayed when I learned how Henry’s father had played a hand in the letter writing.  But so hopeful for their reunion.  I closed the final page and actually had to tell myself ok you live in 2011.  Come back from the war.  And it took a moment because I felt like I was right there with Henry and Keiko.

I hope you loved it as much as I did.  Here are some discussion questions.  Feel free to answer these questions or just discuss the book.

  • Why doesn’t Henry’s father want him to speak Cantonese at home?  How does this decision relate to his desire to send Henry to China for schooling?  Is he sending a mixed message?
  • If you were Henry would you forgive your father?
  • What struggles did your own ancestors have in their journey to America?  Did they incorporate aspects of their culture into their new identities as Americans?
  • Does Henry give up on Keiko too easily?
  • Should Keiko have made more of an effort to find Henry?
  • Do you think Ethel knew what was happening with Henry’s letters?
  • Do you think Ethel was Henry’s second choice?
  • Were you aware of the plight of Japanese Americans during this time?  Were your eyes opened as mine were?

I cannot wait to hear your reaction to this novel!!  I obviously loved it but feel free to disagree with me.  Let’s have a great discussion!!  I will draw the winner on May 2nd when I post Mays Book Club selection.



  1. DaCraftyLady says:

    I'm new here and would love to read the selection for May…my reading blog is http://dabookladysreadinglife.blogspot.com
    I am a follower…
    the review on April's book makes me want to read it. :)

  2. When I started this book I was concerned that the characters were too young-that I wouldn't be able to relate to their issues. I am so glad that I was wrong! Toward the end of the book it's difficult to remember how young they are-the depth of their relationships and the issues that they face together make it much deeper than their age would infer.

    I really appreciated the "lines" that were drawn so clearly in the book between the different asian cultures. Growing up in Hawaii we have always been acutely aware of the vast chasm between them and I really felt that these differences were mapped out well.

    I never felt that Ethel was Henry's second choice but more of a second chance after losing Keiko.

    Excellent choice, Connie. I can't wait to see what next month brings!

  3. Hope you have an amazing day! :) Shauna from http://www.trying2staycalm.com/

  4. Connie @ Measured by the Heart says:

    Welcome Debb, I'm sure you will love this book if you do read it. But Mays selection is great also!!

    Em, I agree with you at first thinking they were too little but I quickly forgot their age. In retrospect they were a little mature (I cannot imagine one of my little ones running off to another state) so maybe the author should have started older but maybe that was the era also? I'm not sure.
    I'm glad you didn't think Ethel was a second choice. I always wondered if Henry kept Keiko in the back of his mind. Kind of as a what if? And I felt bad for Ethel. I'm sure he was a loving husband but I always wondered why this came up and he reuinted with Keiko as soon as Ethel passed. Obviously Henry took care of Ethel and loved her. At the end when Henry and Keiko reuinted I felt bad for all the lost years, which made me feel bad for Ethel again (as if she was just years that went by waiting for Keiko). However I'm loving the idea of Ethel as a second chance and I'm sure she was great for Henry. Thanks for your insights!!

  5. Phyrflie says:

    I have to admit that I felt as if Ethel was Henry's second choice, and she knew it. He was loving, but always had Keiko in the back of his mind, and Ethel knew it. Did it make him less of a loving husband and father? No, but Keiko was always there. I was a little surprised that he didn't try a little harder to find Keiko after he saw her in the crowd.
    I never really paid attention in school when we went over WWII, so this book gave me a little more insight to how cruel the world can be in it's prejudice to people who are the same nationality of our "enemies". It was a little heart breaking to know that they had been rounded up here on US soil.
    I loved the fact that Henry went to see Keiko after all that time.
    I loved this book :)

  6. Connie @ Measured by the Heart says:

    I agree I was disappointed Henry just let Keiko go like that. And she let him go too. I suppose so much time had gone by and they hAd both moved on enough. Henry had decided to go to China and marry Ethel. Still you know that he loved Keiko always. Such wasted time. I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one that didn't have enough knowledge of this time period and the plight of the Japanese Americans. Eye opening huh?

  7. I have not finished the book quite yet but I have to say I had no idea those times were like that in THIS country! My eyes were definitely opened! I am just past the part where Henry's Dad falls sick. Just have been so busy! I hope to finish it either tonight or tomorrow! Can't wait to hear what May's selection is!

    Do you think that both Henry and Keiko felt like they had no control over anything and that is why they just let each other go so easily?

  8. Connie @ Measured by the Heart says:

    I'm afraid we may have spoiled the ending for you. But keep reading anyway, it's worth it. I agree and find it fascinating that so many people weren't aware of the conditions during WWII. I certainly wasn't. I think that Henry should have fought more for Keiko but I also agree with you that possibly they felt they didn't have control over their situations. There is a big sense of honor and obeying ones parents and just doing what you are supposed to. So maybe Henry was resigned to going back to China already. And Keiko maybe thought he had grown away from her and just moved on. It's a bit tragic especially since this probably really happened to people at this time.

  9. I finished! Woohoo! That was so good! So many emotions at the end with Sheldon passing and Henry finally seeing Keiko. I loved the last few chapters. Could not stop reading until I was done!

    I was thinking about your question about Ethel being Henry's second choice. I don't think so. I think that Henry loved both woman but perhaps in different ways. I felt like his love for Ethel was more stable, more of the forever kind of love. Does that make sense? Just my opinion.

  10. Yes-maybe Henry should have fought more for Keiko but I agree with you Connie-there was a deep sense of duty to your parents and to disobey them-especially for you emotions-would have been against everything in their culture. And then again the age plays into it, too-how does a boy that young fight for what he wants at a time like that?

    And with Ethel-I don't remember the time frame from the time she died to the time he began to look for Keiko-does anyone else? I think that Ethel process of dying was long and by the time she did pass away Henry was ready to move forward.

    Perhaps the fact that he didn't feel about Ethel the way he felt about Keiko was a testament to the way their culture did not make decisions based on emotions (reflected in Henry's lack of persistence in fighting for Keiko).

  11. Jaime Lyn at Crafty Scrappy Happy says:

    Hi Connie and fellow book club members! I am so excited to read everyones thoughts and comments, but not quite yet I am not done with the book! I started reading your thoughts and then realized I only have a few chapters left—I don't want to spoil the ending! I love the idea of this book club I am new and next month I promise to be on time with my reading so I can participate!
    Love your blog and love the book for this month!

  12. Alicia @ littlesprinklesoffun says:

    Oh my goodness! What a wonderful book! I have just finished it! What a great ending! I stayed up reading because I could not put it down!
    I loved how Henry and his son ended up kind of understanding one another and connecting in the end. It was great that Marty supported/understood his father's need/desire to find Keiko.

    Does Keiko give up on Henry to easily?

    Maybe Keiko was there and saw Henry that night he proposed to Ethel..and seeing this made her realize he was happy and she of course wanted the best for him. (.. Henry thought he might have seen her there??)

  13. Jessica @ My World - Made By Hand says:

    Still reading…but it's not my fault! I blame it on my library system…

    So far so good though…I find it to be very interesting {I'm one of those that if I get bored in the first few chapters, I put the book down and never pick it up again}…

  14. Connie @ Measured by the Heart says:

    So Sorry I have been MIA. My little one got Strep and needed her mommie. But I am glad you guys have kept discussing.

    Kiana–I love your idea that Ethel was a more stable kind of love for Henry. Almost like Keiko was the metaphorical "bad boy" that gets your heart thumping but Ethel was the deep enduring love. Something to think about. Thanks for the idea!!

    Jamie–you will so love the ending and don't let us spoil it for you!! You're not busy with a big move right now and can just sit down and read for days right?? {hehe}

    Alicia–Don't you just love books that make you stay up late because you cannot stop reading? I love how Marty and Henry came to terms with each other and I give a lot of credit for that to Marty's fiancee. She completely embraced his heritage and I loved her for that!!

    Jessica–This book is totally worth it. I must admit in the very beginning I put this book down several times {I think it was because of the young age of the characters and the jumping back and forth in time} It does take a couple chapters to get going but it is so so worth it!! Don't give up!!

    Thanks everyone for their great comments!! You guys are the absolute BEST!!

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