Study Guide

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Isolation

By Jamie Ford

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Even though Henry is technically "lucky" in Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet because he's Chinese American instead of Japanese American, his Asian looks set him apart from the rest of the world. At school, he's made fun of and bullied because he's Asian and hangs out with Keiko. At home, he doesn't even speak the same language as his parents, so he spends much of his time in silence. And when Keiko's family moves to an internment camp, Henry has no one left—not at school, and not at home. He only has himself, and that's the loneliest existence ever.

Questions About Isolation

  1. Do Henry's parents want to get to know him? Why or why not? Bust out evidence from the text to support your answer.
  2. How does Henry's school life change when Keiko shows up? What happens when she leaves?
  3. How is Henry coping with Ethel's death when the book opens up? Does he enjoy living alone now? How does his relationship to losing Ethel change over the course of the book?

Chew on This

Henry's parents think that by sending him to an all-white school it'll be easier for him to assimilate, but it just ends up isolating him.

The single most isolating thing that happens in Henry's life is his father's decision to disown him.

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