HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET by Jamie Ford spins a tale of a 12-year-old Chinese boy, Henry, who becomes best friends and falls in love with an American-born Japanese girl during WWII, when persons of Japanese ancestry were sent to internment camps.
Of course I learned so many great writing lesson from this book, and here are a few:
- Choose a captivating title. From the moment I saw this title, I knew this was a book I must read. To me, the title emotes melancholy, conflict, and promise. And it didn't disappoint. For help with titles, agent Rachelle Gardner wrote a great post about how to title your book.
- Choose a unique point of view from a familiar time period. I'm fascinated by stories from the WWII era, and I've read many. But never had I read about the existing conflict between Chinese and Japanese Americans during that time. And this POV switched between Henry at 12-years-old, and Henry as an older man in 1986. Fascinating.
- Include a tangible representation of something special. In this case, the symbol was an original recording of a 1942 jazz song. This elusive record appears throughout the book, and represents a special time in the main characters' lives.
- Readers don't have to be banged over the head with conflict. Instead of a hammer of conflict, the troubles Henry faced were woven into a beautiful tapestry of honor and loyalty.
- Tap in to common feelings. Affection, longing, regret. Perhaps most people have wondered about the road not taken, and this author tapped into those feelings with soothing words about characters you can't help but love.
We've all read books we wished we'd written, and this was one of those books for me. Sara Guen, author of Water for Elephants, called it "Mesmerizing and evocative, a tale of conflicted loyalties and timeless devotion."
I couldn't have said it better myself. Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Or is this type of book not your style?
And WriteOnCon starts today! Will I see you there?