Feb 23, 1945, photographer Joe Rosenthal

This month in the April A to Z Challenge, I am posting about books, fiction, and nonfiction that are about or set in the Second World War.  The war and the people who experienced it have stories to tell and these stories are so overwhelming they lend themselves to greatness.  I encourage you to sample some of these stories.  I promise you will not regret taking the time.  To help me develop an alphabetical list for this challenge, I used Goodreads.com.  Did you know that there are more than 883 fiction and 480 nonfiction books in this genre on the website’s Listopia as voted on by members?  That is a lot of stories and facts just waiting for us to explore.


Today for the letter H, I bring you a novel that I just finished and I am forever changed from reading it.  I really like when a storyteller lets you walk in the shoes of their characters.  In Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, we meet compelling characters.

Imagine you are a twelve-year-old boy growing up on the west coast of the United States in the 1940s.  Now imagine, though born in the United States, you are the child of Chinese immigrants.  Now imagine that you father obtains a place for you in the “white” private school where you attend “on scholarship”.  The attack on Pearl Harbor was a just a few months ago. Do your classmates know the difference between being Japanese and being Chinese American?  No worries, your father makes you wear a badge that says “I am Chinese.”  Now imagine that your best friend attends the “white” school too and she is Japanese American.  The Japanese are your father’s sworn enemies not to mention at war with the United States.  If you are familiar with Executive Order 9066 issued in 1942, you know what is to become of the Japanese Americans in this story.  The story begins with this boy in his adulthood.  Events occurring in 1986 trigger a trip down memory lane for Henry Lee.  Come read his journey where he revisits the sacrifices he has made for family, for love, and for country.  It is a moving story of people and a history lesson about life on the homefront in Seattle, Washington.

It is also going to be a film.

I wrote about Executive Order 9066 previously including in the A to Z Challenge.

World War II from #AtoZChallenge #NaPoWriMo – J is for Japanese American Internment

This Week in World War II – War Relocation Authority


Don’t stop there.  So many other books about or set in the time of war are available.  Here are a few links to Goodreads:

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Hiroshima by John Hersey

HMS Ulysses by Alistair MacLean

Honesty in World War 2 by Chris-Jean Clark

Hiroshima Diary by Michihiko Hachiya (Translator: Warner Wells)

Hiroshima Nagasaki by Paul Ham

Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie (This is one of the books that was used as a source for the HBO series, The Pacific.


9 responses

  1. Melanie Crouse says:

    I love this book so much! I feel the same way about my experience reading it. It changed me. I feel that way about his new book, Love and Other Consolation Prizes, which I read much more recently. I had the opportunity to speak with Jamie Ford on several occasions, and although I’m sure he doesn’t remember me, he is the real deal. He is classy and kind.
    Melanie’s Stories


  2. Such difficult times for so many. This sounds like a good book.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. calensariel says:

    This is one of my favorites. They’re supposed to be making a movie from this one, too. I was woefully ignorant about this subject till I read this book. It kind of broke my heart. And now I look at our political situation and I wonder how close we are to doing this again with others…


  4. A couple of years ago, we went to Wyoming and visited Heart Mountain, a Japanese internment camp. What an experience that was, It was good for our daughters to see a part of history that few people talk about because it was in our own backyard. I have this on my wish list.


  5. Great…another book for my list…so little time, so many books and for an addicted reader there are never enough hours in the day to write, read, and live in the world, all at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. hilarymb says:

    Hi Maryann – I’ve been reading so many similar backgrounds to this book – so I’ll keep my eyes open for the film … so desperate … Hilary