September 22 Chapel: Author Jamie Ford

On Monday, September 22, author Jamie Ford visited campus to give a chapel talk and visit classes.

Jamie's novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, is being used as Suffield's community text this year as the school examines the theme of conviction. The book tells a story of friendship and love between a Chinese American boy and a Japanese American girl during the internment in World War II.

Jamie addressed the fact that Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a novel with autobiographical threads; his father was Chinese and mother American. His great grandfather changed his name to William Ford in the late 1800's in order to more easily buy property in the United States. Jamie also remembers stories that his Chinese grandfather, who was only 13 years old at the time of Pearl Harbor, told him about the cruel treatment of Asians on the U.S. Pacific Coast during the internment of Japanese Americans in the 1940s.

Jamie's early career began in Seattle when he met journalist Walt Woodward, who had defended the Japanese during Pearl Harbor and ignored threats that doing so was considered treason. The controversy that surrounded Walt inspired Jamie. “He embodied conviction,” said Jamie. “It's not until it costs you something—whether it's money or emotions—that you know it's something you believe in.”

During the Q&A portion of Chapel, a student asked Jamie why he chose to start the novel with Henry Lee as a twelve year-old, to which Jamie responded, “Because that was the age when I first had my heart broken.” The themes of love and conviction are intertwined throughout his novel because they are close to Jamie's heart, and his hope is that younger generations will continue to uphold these themes in their lives.
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