Henry Lee is 12 years old in 1942. He is a Chinese boy, living in Seattle, forced to go to an all-white school where he is teased and mocked. To pay for attending this school, he has to work in the school kitchen and do chores for the school after classes.
It’s horrible until another Asian student starts at the school. Keiko. She’s a welcome relief to the isolation that Henry has felt but for one thing — she is Japanese. Not only is she an enemy to the Chinese but she is an enemy in America.
Even though the relationship is forbidden, Henry and Keiko become best friends and Henry falls in love with her.
But the war progresses and thousands upon thousands of Japanese Americans are rounded up and placed in camps for the majority of the war.
Henry and Keiko are separated.
This story is told through he eyes of Henry in 1984. His wife has recently died and he confronts his past when they open up The Panama Hotel and find the personal belongings many Japanese families were not able to take with him. In the collection are some of Keiko’s items.
It was a great story. I cried at the end, it was just really well done. The character development in this book is also well done. I loved Mrs. Beatty and Sheldon. They were amazing adults and friends, always there when Henry needed someone. I really liked them.