Study Guide

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Chapter 39

By Jamie Ford

Chapter 39

Thirteen (1942)

  • The next month, Henry turns thirteen and feels like he's more of an adult now. Nothing much happens for his birthday.
  • Things are grim at home. His father is still recovering from his stroke and is now confined to a wheelchair, plus he still hasn't forgiven Henry.
  • On top of that, Keiko hasn't written since leaving Camp Harmony. School is rough now, too, and Henry just wants to get to high school so he can be in a more integrated environment.
  • Henry looks so pathetic and sad whenever Sheldon sees him that his friend finally suggests they take a little trip to Idaho. It's a long way, but Sheldon tells him they can hop on a Greyhound bus and go visit Keiko.
  • At first Henry is uncertain, but then he thinks about how he's thirteen now and decides he can make his own decisions, separate from what his parents want.
  • He packs up a suitcase and heads out the door, telling his mother he'll be gone for a few days and that she shouldn't worry.
  • When Sheldon and Henry get off the bus, they're both a little nervous because they're the only people of color in sight.
  • Despite their initial concerns, they manage to find the camp and the visitors' room, which is completely filled. They're going to have to wait for some time to see Keiko.
  • After waiting for a whole six hours, Henry and Sheldon get up to leave since visiting hours are over. But then Henry hears a voice calling his name.
  • It's Keiko. She's standing in the rain and staring at him as though she can't believe that he's there. She wants to know what he's doing here.
  • He tells her he came to see her because their goodbye at Camp Harmony wasn't enough. Then he kisses her. It's his very first kiss, and it's a pretty romantic one at that.

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