While I found the book to be a slow read at first, it did finally win me over. It wasn’t the “Romeo / Juliet” storyline of Henry (Chinese) and Keiko (Japanese) during the high of the internment of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II (although I found myself routing for them). It was the story of the three different cultures, the fears and friendships that I found myself drawn into and the reason I kept reading. The story as told through the eyes of Henry, a young Chinese American boy, and through his eyes we see the disparaging effects of prejudice and bigotry. It gave a good perspective into the difference beliefs and traditions and how they grow and evolve from parents to children.
Jamie Ford’s secondary characters were just as strong as the prominent ones and added so much to this book. I would have loved to have read more about the characters of Sheldon and Mrs. Beatty the “lunch lady”– but I was glad to hear that Ford had developed short stories from each of those characters. I shall seek them out!
The authors note at the end of the book actually made me appreciate the book even more! Knowing that the “I Am Chinese” pin was worn by the authors father as a child, that Panama Hotel is real and still exists today holding many artifacts from Japanese American families, that Oscar Holden was truly a forefather of Northwest jazz and that Bud Jazz Records still sits in the Seattle’s Pioneer Square – brought me closer to the characters and pulled me further into the story even thought I had already completed reading it. It makes me want to walk those streets and enjoy tea at the Panama Hotel one day!
Overall I found this to be an engaging and interesting read! 4 Stars!