From Years Past: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet examines the lives of a Chinese boy, Henry and a Japanese girl, Keiko and the friendship that ensues between the two during World War II. Henry and Keiko’s friendship is a result of both of them being outsiders in their schools and very much so in their town. The all white school that they both attends looks at both of them as the enemy, even when Henry wears a nametag stating “I am American” people laugh and throw insults his way, it does though keep him from being labeled the true enemy which in his day and age was the Japanese. Keiko doesn’t apologize for her nationality nor does she accept responsibility for the actions of those who attacked
This book was written in both past and present tense, through the eyes of Henry. You get to observe the relationship he has with his parents who are teaching him to abandon his Chinese ways to truly become American during these times and how that affects him living in a community that doesn’t accept him as an American. You experience his confusion as an older man trying to bridge the generation gap between him and his son. You also get to experience the loss of friendship and love due to circumstance and how the past can unexpectedly come rushing into your life.