Outstanding, Young Adult, Immigration, World War II, Romance, Family, Culture
Henry is glad to be Chinese. Some people mistake him for being Japanese, but the difference is especially important now, during World War II. Since the United States is fighting against Japan, Japanese-Americans are ostracized even more than the other immigrants. Henry’s father harbors serious prejudice toward the Japanese, and he makes Henry wear a button that reads “I am Chinese.” When another Asian girl comes to study at Henry’s school, which is almost exclusively all-white, Henry is ecstatic. Even after learning that she is Japanese, Henry cannot help but be drawn in by Keiko’s sweet nature and fighting spirit. Without telling his parents, Henry and Keiko develop a close friendship, which blossoms into something like love as they bond over the experience of being outsiders in a country that is supposed to be for everyone. When events of the war separate Henry and Keiko, they promise each other that they will find a way back to each other, but it takes far longer than they expected to finally meet again.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
"Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,"
Children's Book and Media Review: Vol. 40:
5, Article 24.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cbmr/vol40/iss5/24