In an interesting experiment with perspective, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is narrated by the same voice, but at different periods during his life. The narration provides a shifting tonal perspective of its protagonist Henry Lee. Insight is offered into Henry as an innocent young Chinese-American kid faced with the harsh realities of America not quite being the home of the free. The reader also gets a glimpse of was happened in the land of the brave through the recollections of the adult Henry. The dual perspective proves an extraordinarily creative way of creating an emotional response while maintaining an intellectual distance.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet takes place within the historical context of one of the darkest periods of American history: internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. The novel provides an additional view to how America responded to the attacks of Pearl Harbor. The remembrance of the heroism created following those events is offset by the shame of the nation.
If Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet succeeds at nothing else for the reader, it should succeed as a reminder that nearly every moment of pride in American history has been offset by a moment of humiliation. And if that is a little too dark, then readers can sit back and enjoy a timeless tale of endless love.