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 – the cord which binds one intended beloved to her perfect match – also punishes for mistakes in love, twisting each misstep into a destructive knot that passes down the family line.
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 members of the Leong family 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 Leong’s only grandchild. Eighteen and pregnant, Theresa holds the answers to her family’s mysteries, 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 first born son, Theresa must decide what stories to tell, who to side with, 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 to Pearl Harbor to 1960s Hawaii, Diamond Head is an exploration of whether or not there’s such a thing as a legacy of the heart. Passionate and devastating, it is filled with love, lies, loss, and, most astounding of all – hope.
"Cecily Wong’s 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—and on whether children must bear the costs of their parents’ mistakes."
- Celeste Ng, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere
"Wong will utterly transport you through her breathtaking prose in this impressively crafted story."
"Lush, vivid, and unpredictable."
“This lyrical novel held my heart captive from its opening scent of hibiscus to its final image of the dark and mighty volcano that bears witness to the rise and fall of one of Hawaii’s most prominent families. . . . A literary heartbreaker of a novel about the ways the heart betrays us, the ways it leads us to the truth.”
“A hot summer day is perfect for this sweeping multi-generational family saga which takes the reader from China to Hawaii.”
- Book Riot
“Wong’s multigenerational Hawaiian saga of deception and loyalty evocatively captures the tightly controlled worlds of privilege and power.”
“Wong’s 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 Tan’s The Joy Luck Club will enjoy exploring Chinese-Hawaiian history and culture with this lovely novel.”
- Library Journal
"In Cecily Wong's rich and compelling debut novel, Diamond Head, the lives of three generations of women in the Leong family are intricately tied together by the ‘red thread’ of fate. Spanning decades, from China to Hawaii, their secrets and missteps of the past will come to define each of their futures. With keen insight, effused with sadness and hope, Diamond Head is an auspicious debut."
- Gail Tsukiyama, author of The Samurai's Garden and A Hundred Flowers.
"Cecily Wong's 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 Hawaii's rich history."
- Yangsze Choo, author of The Ghost Bride
"Ms. Wong’s first novel is a vivid story of a family’s 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 Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
"Diamond Head takes the family saga to a new and very high place. We are given an intimate glimpse of two cultures: The Chinese and the Hawaiian, and we accompany our characters from the Boxer Rebellion, to the Second World War, to the changing days of the early sixties. Diamond Head offers many revelations; the reader follows the fortunes of this family, breathlessly, hungry for more."
- Mary Gordon, author of The Liar's Wife and There Your Heart Lies