Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February 2010 Book Club Meeting

Summary: In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice–words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart. -- Ballantine Books

Last night, our book club met to discuss HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET by Jamie Ford. You might remember that I read this book quite awhile ago (my review) and really enjoyed it! I wimped out and didn't venture out in our latest snow storm. I feel like a total idiot because we ended up getting only a little over an inch of snow, but I'm still very freaked about our accident in December. I also feel terrible because it's the first book club meeting I've ever missed -- in almost eight years.

Since I wasn't at the meeting, I really don't have much to tell you. One of the members said that everyone really enjoyed the book. She also added that when we all like the book, we often times don't have the best discussions. I know exactly what she means.

Next month we will be reading THE ISLAND by Victoria Hislop. I have owned this book for a few years and have always wanted to read it -- now I have the perfect reason. THE ISLAND was featured in the 2008 Reading Group Choices, and it sounds like a terrific discussion book. There is a reading guide available too which always help keep us focused.

Summary: The Petrakis family lives in the small Greek seaside village of Plaka. Just off the coast is the tiny island of Spinalonga, where the nation's leper colony once was located—a place that has haunted four generations of Petrakis women. There's Eleni, ripped from her husband and two young daughters and sent to Spinalonga in 1939, and her daughters Maria, finding joy in the everyday as she dutifully cares for her father, and Anna, a wild child hungry for passion and a life anywhere but Plaka. And finally there's Alexis, Eleni's great-granddaughter, visiting modern-day Greece to unlock her family's past.

A richly enchanting novel of lives and loves unfolding against the backdrop of the Mediterranean during World War II, The Island is an enthralling story of dreams and desires, of secrets desperately hidden, and of leprosy's touch on an unforgettable family. -- Harper


bermudaonion said...

I don't blame you for staying home! An inch paralyzes everyone around here!

Sandy Nawrot said...

In Florida, even when it rains heavy, everybody forgets how to drive. So I'm not judging. My club meets this Thursday to talk about Sarah's Key. I'm dreading it a little because I found some faults with it, and I'm sure I'll be the big booby and everyone else will have loved it!

Jo-Jo said...

The snow is crazy sometimes....You can be expecting a bunch and end up with only a little, but then sometimes it's the opposite. I guess I would rather be safe than sorry myself! I got this book for Christmas and can't wait to read it...maybe I can talk my book club into reading it too!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I could see how a book everyone liked wouldn't necessarily make for a good discussion. And you would have been sorry if you had gone and it had snowed while you were there and then you had to drive home in it! I always opt to be on the safe side, myself!

Beth Kephart said...

We couldn't tell what the snow was going to be, dear one. Don't blame yourself. I just bought Hotel. I'm looking forward to reading it!

Anonymous said...

I just read and reviewed The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I didn't love it. Too bad I couldn't go to your book club to add to the discussion, being someone who didn't love the book!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Better safe than sorry ... I'm sure you were much more comfortable making the decision to stay home.

I haven't yet read HOTEL AT THE CORNER OF BITTER & SWEET (waiting on my shelf ...). I did read THE ISLAND a few years ago, I'll look for your thoughts on this one.

Beth F said...

I have wanted to read Hotel for a long while now and your next choice sounds great.

I missed February's lace meeting for the same reason -- and with the same results. Oh well. Better safe than sorry.