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In his mega-best-selling debut, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Ford depicted a star-crossed romance during the fateful years of World War II. His new work depicts another star-crossed romance, but the real love here is between mother and son. On a movie outing, William Eng, a Chinese American boy at the repressive Sacred Heart Orphanage in 1930s Seattle, sees the beautiful actress Willow Frost on-screen and is convinced that she is his mother. Later, with close friend Charlotte, he breaks out of the orphanage (in a bookmobile, no less) to hunt for Willow. He finds her quickly (an interesting twist, as one initially expects the novel to focus on William's journey), then hears her plaintive tale of actor parents lost early, an abusive stepfather, and love for a young Chinese man who seems on the verge of rescuing her. Then, as the narrative cuts between William's confused reactions and the remainder of Willow's story, both William and the reader come to realize what Willow has done to protect her son. VERDICT Writing in simple, unaffected language befitting both William and the young Willow, Ford delivers a tale his fans will certainly relish. [See Prepub Alert, 3/18/13.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Ford (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, 2009) tells another dual-thread story in his second novel. William Eng, a 12-year-old resident of the Sacred Heart Orphanage in Depression-era Seattle, has vivid memories of his ah-ma, whom he hasn't seen since he was placed in the sisters' care five years ago. On a rare school trip, William is sure he recognizes his mother in a film advertisement as the ingenue Willow Frost, and he vows to find her to make sense of his abandonment. Willow's backstory then unfolds in dated chapters before William's birth. The newly orphaned, American-born daughter of Chinese immigrants learns quickly that her family's tradition is tragic, both as performers on the stage and as second-class citizens at sea between the culture they've defied by leaving and the one in which they live, rapidly changing yet not fully accepting. As characters, Willow and William are amalgamations who allow for deep discussions of forgotten taboos, and Ford's research, sparing no despairing detail, lends a vivid sense of time and place.--Bostrom, Annie Copyright 2010 Booklist