Saturday, October 22, 2011
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Jamie Ford
Update: I have now finished the book and really enjoyed it. The chapters are brief, so if your life gets interrupted frequently (aka you're a mom) it really helps! It's written in split narrative, Henry (the main character) as a child/teen and his relationship with his family, particularly his father, and his decisions based on his experiences at the time, and Henry as a grown man who has a grown son of his own and their relationship. That sub-plot, the one of father-son relationships was really interesting to me and evoked a lot of thoughts. As a child, do I REALLY know my parents? Or do I just think I really know who they are and who they were? As a parent, how can I let my children know who I was? Who I am? As a person separate from being the authoritative figure in their life? I kept a journal through my middle/high school years, and even though I probably wrote every day creating an absurd amount of redundancy, at least they will be able to read it and have insight to what and who I was at the time. (I intend to let my daughters read parts of my journals that relates to their same age as when I wrote it).
Historically, even though I lived near Seattle (where the story takes place) until I was 6 and in SW Washington state after that, I was surprised by how little I really knew about the Japanese evacuations during the second world war. I now am more enlightened with the situation-which was represented in a very good way; from the perspective of a child-which the author did very well and in such a matter of fact, this is what happened way, that he does not condemn neither condone the acts of the US Government of that day, although with the mind of Henry, you DO get the big sense of injustice and the confusion of how it would make sense. BUT we also have to realize that only hindsight is 20/20 and for us to judge what happened in history is sometimes more complicated than it seems. We who did not live through that era may not fully realize the implications and feelings of the populace at the time. What we see as a simple, much BETTER solution may have been completely out of the grasp of reality then. Does that mean I agree with the Japanese internments? Definitely not. It just means that I realize that I don't believe I have all sides to the story including the context of the time in order to truly form what I believe to be an education opinion. It did, however, help me to realize how complicated things must be when we have fears of terrorists today. We can't just round up everyone of a certain race, religion, creed, etc and contain them because we are afraid of a few-who probably would evade such efforts anyhow. And the government would be gun-shy to do anything similar to that because of what happened. But does that impeded their ability to do what they feel is necessary for fear of public outcry? Who knows. It's just a lot to think about. And THAT is what makes this book good. I'm STILL thinking about it and I put it down several days ago.