Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford
Ford’s concept is too good to disappoint. Two plucky Asian-American kids, transcending cultural barriers for true love. Rich setting (San Francisco), gripping conflict (Japanese internment), a Wise Black Musician – you’re golden, right?
Wrong. That summary has about as much impact as the book.
Ford overuses hyphens and stilted exposition. To wit: “Henry also didn’t bother to tell Marty about the second mortgage — the one he’d taken out to get him through college when the student loans ran dry. Why make him worry? Why put that pressure on him? School is hard enough as it is. Like any good father, he wanted the best for his son, even if they didn’t talk all that much.”
Even I could trim that down to: “Henry didn’t tell Marty about the second mortgage he’d taken out to pay his son’s college tuition. School is hard enough as it is.”
Twelve-year-old Henry doesn’t talk, he narrates about Love, Freedom, and Manhood like the “Themes” section of a middle-school textbook. Ford’s metaphors are whack: “the mouthwatering sight of barbecue duck in the windows, hanging red crayons melting in the sun.” Nobody hangs crayons. Ducks aren’t crayon-shaped or colored. And…yum?
Ford obviously loves stories, so I feel bad being harsh, but there are better novels about both internment and love.
The 214 in 2014 series chronicles every book I read in 2014. Each review contains exactly 214 words, because 2014 words is too long and 2014 characters is too dang short. And yes, this review is backlogged from 2014.
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