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Book on Japanese internment chosen for 'South Hadley Reads'

Date: 3/1/2011

March 2, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SOUTH HADLEY — There is a change in the annual "South Hadley Reads" program. In the past, the book selected to be read by as many people in the town as possible, was one aimed at children. This year, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Jamie Ford is a book that can be read by young people and adults.

Desir e Smelcer, the adult services librarian at the South Hadley Public Library, told Reminder Publications the book was selected out of a group of eight novels.

The book tells the dual story of the relationship between a Chinese-American father and his son as well as the revelation of the father's friendship with a Japanese-American girl who was interned during World War II (WWII).

In its review of the book, Kirkus Book Reviews described it as "Sentimental, heartfelt ... the exploration of Henry's changing relationship with his family and with Keiko will keep most readers turning pages ... A timely debut that not only reminds readers of a shameful episode in American history, but cautions us to examine the present and take heed we don't repeat those injustices."

The book was selected because Smelcer said it was "inspirational," a characteristic necessary at this time.

Smelcer said "South Hadley Reads" is a joint effort between the library, the Gaylord Library, the Odyssey Bookstore and the South Hadley Council on Aging (COA).

Copies of the book will be available for loan at the two libraries and at the COA. The book will also be on sale at the Odyssey Bookstore with a 25 percent discount. The book is also available on CD.

There are also a series of events, which complement the reading experience. These include the following:

• The foreign film "Rabbit in the Moon" will be shown March 2 at 6 p.m. This film is a documentary/memoir about the 120,000 Japanese-Americans who were imprisoned in the internment camps during WWII.

• Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe will give a talk on the history of Westover Air Reserve Base during WW II on March 9 at 6 p.m.

• Mount Holyoke College Professor of Asian Studies Dr. Jonathan Lipman will speak on "Japan and China in the 20th Century: Historical Background of Jamie Ford's Novel" on March 21 at 6 p.m. Unlike American participation in the Pacific war (1941-1945), the modern conflict between Japan and China lasted 50 years and had its roots before the first Sino-Japanese War, 1894-1895

• The South Hadley Public Library Book Group will discuss the book on March 23 at 6:30 p.m.

• There will be a re-enactment by Martha Smith titled, "Meet Miss Martha: a WWII Frontlines Nurse" on March 26 at 10 a.m. "Miss Martha," a nurse in Burma, China and India, will talk about what it was like to be a nurse in the Pacific Theatre and life on the frontlines.

All of the programs are free, open to the public and take place at The South Hadley Public Library at 27 Bardwell St. For more information, call 538- 5045.

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