I read The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet first. I was swept away by this novel. I think the author did a great job of giving the main character his voice. Here are just some of the historical facts I learned.
- This book took place in Seattle, Washington. I had no idea that there was such a huge concentration of Chinese and Japanese that lived there during this time.
- I knew nothing about the Japan attacking China before WWII even broke out.
- I didn't know that there were internment camps located in Washington.
- Can you imagine having to wear a button that says "I'm Chinese."
I fell in love with Henry and Keiko. Their story rang so true to me and the ending made me cry!! This is Jamie Ford's debut novel and wow, he knocked my socks off. I see big things ahead for him. I can't recommend this one enough and it is on my faves list for 2009!
Next up on my reading list was Shanghai Girls. I adore Lisa See and her writing style. This one did not disappoint me at all. This story begins in Shanghai and introduces us to sisters, May and Pearl. They are young, beautiful and carefree. Much of their lives they have been spoiled by their parents. Then war comes to China and the Japanese have invaded. I now had some idea of this war, The Second Sino-Japanese War, because it was referenced in The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Another piece of the puzzle fell into place. I don't want to say my history teachers were not skilled, but we only talked about how WWII affected the United States. I love it when I take away new information from reading!! Somehow (I know how but don't want to spoil it for anyone) the two sisters make it out of China and end up in the United States. Once again, the prejudice that the Chinese people experienced in the US at this time is forefront in the story and you get another glimpse into how Asians were perceived during WWII.
For me, See hit a home run with this beautiful novel. This one is a favorite read of 2009.
The final book that I read was Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas. I would've never known about this book until I posted my review of her newest release, Prayers For Sale. Kaye from Pudgy Penguin Perusals recommended this one to me. I'm so thankful that she did because this one was a WINNER!!! The setting is in Colorado and it is based on an actual Japanese internment camp. The main character Rennie Stroud is something else! I loved this girl and her feistiness. I also thought her parents were pretty awesome characters. You honestly can't help but want to be a part of their family. A twist on this book that is different than the others, is that a murder of a young girl occurs in Rennie's hometown and everyone wants to blame the Japanese. Througout the story you see how if people just take a chance and put aside their prejudices, then true friendships can be made. Tallgrass also makes the list of favorite reads this year!!!
I'm glad that I read these 3 books. I wish now that I would've read them one right after the other just because it would've been a much more cohesive history lesson for me. Nothing detracts from the stories by reading them months apart, but if you're interested in reading about this time period then these are three stellar stories that gives the reader many different perspectives.