I received a free copy for my honest review.
About the Book:
• Print Length: 320 pages
• Publisher: Harper (April 14, 2015)
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.
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.
Diamond Head is a story of one family, the Leongs, told in three different time periods and two different countries. The family starts out in China where the patriarch, Frank builds a large shipping company. He is married to Lin and his sons are Bohai and Kopai. The second generation focuses most on Bohai and his wife Amy and third generation is the story of their daughter Theresa who is pregnant at 19. There are other characters that come in and out of the tale at different times and places but the book is about these core characters.
I realize that what I just wrote sounds impossibly dry and I wish it didn’t because this book is anything but – it’s rich in detail about China and Hawaii and the characters are finely wrought. Ms. Wong has her readers get to know the people who inhabit the book slowly and carefully and their personalities are built piece by piece as you learn little bits about each one as they go through their lives. The characters live in dangerous times in both China as the Boxer Rebellion occurs and then after they move to Hawaii WWII draws the US in with that infamous attack on Pearl Harbor.
It is more a book about family dynamics and relationships than it is a book about love and romance despite the existence of both within its pages. There are many a twist and turn and despite having finishing it I still feel that there are questions to be addressed. I am still thinking about these characters – they have stayed with me. Their stories so dramatic and so simple all at once. I do think there could be a sequel. I do hope there is a sequel.
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