1. The author had a settled life in Houston. What prompts her to leave it all behind?
  2. The author is enchanted with Hawaii when she visits but feels out of place when she lives there. What changes?
  3. How would you characterize the author’s relationship with her family in the early part of the book?
  4. What role does the author’s age play in her experiences? How do her self-image and experience compare to your expectations for someone of that age?
  5. The author describes herself as a timid introvert. Do you agree? How does personality help or hinder our ability to cross social barriers?
  6. Early in the book, the author sees an unconventional therapist. Why do you think she included this section in the book?
  7. As a white woman, how does the author view herself in relation to the non-white communities she encounters in Houston, Hawaii, and Hong Kong?
  8. What cultural differences do the author and her boyfriend/husband discover between them and how do they negotiate those differences?  
  9. When the two families visit Hawaii, what differences does the author sees between them? Do you think these families are typical or unique?
  10. When the couple goes to Hong Kong for the first time, what situations provoke culture shock for the author? Have you had similar experiences?
  11. When the couple moves to Hong Kong, what differences does the author see between Chinese and American customs? Which ones does she admire?
  12. Were you familiar with the seasonal festivals and practices described by the author? Does your community have similar practices?
  13. Toward the end of their stay on Cheung Chau, the author describes herself as being both an insider and an outsider. What are the benefits and drawbacks of each role?
  14. What tools does the author ultimately use to overcome culture shock and cultural differences with her Chinese family?
  15. In what ways does the author experience “reverse culture shock” when she returns to her American family?
  16. How have the author’s perceptions changed by the end of the book?
  17. Why did the author choose to begin and end her story with the jade bracelet?
  18. What would you say is the central theme or message of this book?