Sunday, July 12, 2009

Staying Power

I measure the greatness of a novel by how long the story and/or characters stay with me once I've left them behind on the last page. I finished reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet almost two weeks ago, and Henry and Keiko- and the lives they lead- have remained with me on a daily basis since then.

Quite simply, this debut novel by Jaime Ford is a superb example of storytelling at its finest. I won't synopsize the story here, because it is done wonderfully here. But I will say that the friendship, loyalty, and love that forms between young Henry Lee, and Keiko Okabe is beyond tender and endearing. The external prejudices that both Henry and Keiko battle during World War II rings of realistic truthfulness, and the internal battle of wills that Henry must endure with a father who is distant, and obsessively loyal to the war in China is nothing if not heartbreaking.

I discovered this book like I do most others-- by wandering my local book store (for sometimes hours at a time) and seeing what catches my eye. The cover for Hotel is beautifully done (Jamie really lucked out there), and I couldn't help but pick it up. I normally don't splurge on the cost of a hardcover by an author I haven't read before, but I remembered reading some buzz about this book, and so splurge I did.

Wow. I recommend that you splurge, too.

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