Last night several of us got together to discuss the March Book Club Pick: THE LACUNA.  Great conversation as always – I think my favorite comment was when Faith mentioned that Harrison Shepard  – the main character – was a lot like Forrest Gump.  He just seemed to end up in the middle of important historical events.  Totally true.  Overall we felt the book was tough to get into but worth the read in the end.

This month a lot of other great titles were discussed as possible future picks such as WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel, SIN IN THE SECOND CITY by Karen Abbott, ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN by Jim Fergus and THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET by David Mitchell.  And though I may seem like an evil dictator when it comes to the book club selection, I am actually happy to have your suggestions – so please, keep them coming!  In the mean time – and without further ado – I am happy to announce that Jamie Ford’s HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET is officially our pick for April!

I’m super excited about this pick because I absolutely love this book.  I’ve actually read it twice now – which is very rare for me – and it held up equally well on the second reading.

Here’s a brief synopsis:

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war years.  While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship-and innocent love-that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol at the re-opened Panama Hotel belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure.

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope.

Have your book club read along with us – or start a Midtown Review book club of your own!

If you live in the Atlanta area you can join us to discuss the book.  Go to for all the details and to register!

— Dana Barrett, Managing Editor