Diamond Head by Cecily Wong
Published by: Harper
Published on: April 14, 2015
Page Count: 320 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Reading Format: Paperback review copy provided by the publisher for consideration
Available Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, and Audiobook
Summary from the Publisher:
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 patriarch’s 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 Leong’s only grandchild, eighteen and pregnant, the heir apparent to her ancestors’ punishing knots.
Told through the eyes of the Leong’s 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.
Someday I would really like to go to Hawaii. I’m pretty sure I’ve had this dream as far back as the first time I saw the surfing Brady Bunch episode. I have no worries about curses because I’m not as foolish as the Brady boys. My first precious piece of jewelry also has a Hawaiian connection. My great grandmother, who passed away just before my first birthday, went to Hawaii after I was born. She came back with a pearl necklace for me so that I would always know I had a Great Grandma Iola who loved me. As much as Hawaii gives me warm feelings, I can’t remember ever having read a book set in Hawaii. So, when Harper Perennial dangled Diamond Head in front of me on Twitter one night, it was the setting (okay, the setting and the cover) that prompted me to say, “Yes, please!”
Interestingly enough, the beautiful Hawaiian setting itself was the least of what I ended up loving about Diamond Head. I was drawn into the Leong family’s Chinese origins and history. I was drawn to the role that the Boxer Rebellion shaped their family, the decisions that were made, and the lies of omission and commission that knotted the family up. Their culture and history were always in the forefront and I found that very appealing. I went into Diamond Head wanting to read historical fiction, especially from perspectives I was less familiar with in fiction. This book delivered.
Cecily Wong is a debut author and I very much enjoyed reading Diamond Head. It gave me the taste of Hawaii I was looking for and more. It gave me another perspective on family traditions and heritage and made me so very thankful to have a strong family, even if I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like. It made me pull out the pearl necklace and remember that my great grandma loved me. I will be looking forward to more reading as Wong’s career develops. I hope we don’t have to wait too long for her next novel.