Synopses & Reviews
A sweeping debut, crossing from China to Hawaii, that follows three generations of a wealthy dynasty whose rise and decline is riddled with secrets and tragic love—from a young, powerful new voice in fiction
Frank Leong, a prominent shipping industrialist and head of the celebrated Leong family, brings his loved ones from China to Hawaii at the turn of the twentieth century, abandoning his interests at the port of Tsingtao when the Japanese invade. But something ancient follows the Leongs to the islands, haunting them—the parable of the red string of fate. According to Chinese legend, the red string binds one to her intended beloved, but also punishes for mistakes in love, twisting any misstep into a destructive knot that passes down through generations.
When Frank Leong is murdered on Oahu, his family is thrown into a perilous downward spiral. Left to rebuild in their patriarch's shadow, the surviving Leongs attempt a new, ordinary life, vowing to bury their gilded past. Still, the island continues to whisper—fragmented pieces of truth and chatter—until a letter arrives two decades later, carrying a confession that shatters the family even further.
Now the Leongs' survival rests with young Theresa, Frank's only grandchild. Eighteen and pregnant, Theresa holds the answers to her family's mysteries and is left to carry the burden of their mistakes. On the day of her father's funeral, as the Leongs gather to mourn the loss of their firstborn son, Theresa must decide what stories to tell, with whom to side, and which knots will endure for another generation.
Told through the eyes of the Leongs' secret-keeping daughters and wives—and spanning the Boxer Rebellion, Pearl Harbor, and 1960s Hawaii—Diamond Head is an exploration of whether there's such a thing as a legacy of the heart. Passionate and devastating, it is a story filled with love, lies, loss, and—most astounding of all—hope.
“Diamond Head takes the family saga to a new and very high place. . . . Readers will follow the fortunes of this family breathlessly, hungry for more.” Mary Gordon, author of < i=""> The Liar's Wife <>
“Cecily Wongs lush debut novel hooked me in right away as it slowly unraveled the tangle of secrets the Leong family has kept for decades. Diamond Head is an intricate meditation on what is in our control and what is fate.” Celeste Ng, author of < i=""> Everything I Never Told You <>
“Cecily Wongs Diamond Head is a shimmering tapestry of secrets and betrayals, beautifully told through the eyes of the women of the wealthy Leong family. An eye-opening, poignant read set against the backdrop of Hawaiis rich history.” Yangsze Choo, author of < i=""> The Ghost Bride <>
“Ms. Wongs first novel is a vivid story of a familys journey over time. We live and breathe with her characters as we witness history shaping family, and family creating its own history. Diamond Head is a jewel of a saga.” Rebecca Wells, author of < i=""> Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood <>
“[A] rich and compelling debut novel. . . . With keen insight, effused with sadness and hope, Diamond Head is an auspicious debut.” Gail Tsukiyama, author of < i=""> The Samurai's Garden <> and < i=""> A Hundred Flowers <>
“Wongs pellucid prose style keeps the pages turning. . . . A promising debut.” < i=""> Kirkus Reviews <>
“Wongs debut novel will hook readers from the first page and not let go until the final tragic secret is revealed. . . . Reading groups and fans of Amy Tans The Joy Luck Club will enjoy exploring Chinese-Hawaiian history and culture with this lovely novel.” < i=""> Library Journal <>
“Wongs multigenerational Hawaiian saga of deception and loyalty evocatively captures the tightly controlled worlds of privilege and power.” < i=""> Booklist <>
“A sweeping family saga in the tradition of Amy Tan. . . .Wong perceptively captures her cast of characters and their setting.” < i=""> Publishers Weekly <>
“Wong will utterly transport you through her breathtaking prose in this impressively crafted story.” < i=""> Bustle <>
“[A] lush, vivid, and unpredictable narrative.” < i=""> Elle <>
“An impressive story of romance stretching from early twentieth century China to Hawaii in 1964. . . . In this story of three generations of Chinese immigrants, ancient traditions and family secrets threaten the Leong clan in this captivating story of ill-fated romance set in beautiful island of Oahu.” < i=""> Iron Mountain Daily News <>
“In Diamond Head, Wong has crafted a delicate tower of mystery and history. . . . Wongs prose is lyrical and nearly poetic. . . . Lovely.” < i=""> New York Journal of Books <>
A sweeping debut spanning from China to Hawaii that follows four generations of a wealthy shipping family whose rise and decline is riddled with secrets and tragic love—from a young, powerful new voice in fiction.
At the turn of the nineteenth century, Frank Leong, a fabulously wealthy shipping industrialist, moves his family from China to the island of Oahu. But something ancient follows the Leongs to Hawaii, haunting them. The parable of the red string of fate, the cord that binds one intended beloved to her perfect match, also punishes for mistakes in love, passing a destructive knot down the family line.
When Frank Leong is murdered, his family is thrown into a perilous downward spiral. Left to rebuild in their patriarchs shadow, the surviving members of the Leong family try their hand at a new, ordinary life, vowing to bury their gilded past. Still, the island continues to whisper—fragmented pieces of truth and chatter, until a letter arrives two decades later, carrying a confession that shatters the family even further.
Now the Leongs survival rests with young Theresa, Frank Leongs only grandchild, eighteen and pregnant, the heir apparent to her ancestors punishing knots.
Told through the eyes of the Leongs secret-keeping daughters and wives and spanning The Boxer Rebellion to Pearl Harbor to 1960s Hawaii, Diamond Head is a breathtakingly powerful tale of tragic love, shocking lies, poignant compromise, aching loss, heroic acts of sacrifice and, miraculous hope.
About the Author
Cecily Wong is Chinese-Hawaiian. She was born on Oahu and raised in Oregon. Diamond Head grew from family stories told to her by her parents and grandparents. Wong graduated from Barnard College, where the first pages of this novel won the Peter S. Prescott Prize for Prose Writing. She lives in New York City.