Madame Hoo spends a lot of the book without a voice. She emigrated from China as Mr. Hoo's second wife – although we never really figure out why she married him – and doesn't speak very good English. It's no surprise she feels alone and alienated in Sunset Towers. Maybe it's no surprise, either, that she turns to a little light kleptomania as a means of saving up for a ticket back to China. We can understand a pearl necklace and gold watch, but it's a mystery why she's so interested in Turtle's Mickey Mouse clock. She spends most of her time staring out the window at the lake, wishing she could see back to China.
Madame Hoo is also culturally misunderstood by both her husband and Grace Wexler, dressed in stereotypical, revealing clothes, and limited to pouring tea at the Hoos' restaurant. When we see her at the end of the book as the confident English-speaking Sunny, who's running a successful business by herself and has made it back to China on her own steam, we're pleased for her; she overcame the odds and finally became articulate in a new land.