DIAMOND HEAD

Cecily Wong

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.

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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.

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  • Harper Perennial
  • Paperback
  • March 2016
  • 336 Pages
  • 9780062345448

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$15.99

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About Cecily Wong

Cecily Wong’s work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Review of Books, Self magazine, Bustle, and elsewhere. She is a graduate of Barnard College, and lives and writes in New York.

Praise

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

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

A sweeping family saga in the tradition of Amy Tan. . . .Wong perceptively captures her cast of characters and their setting.” —Publishers Weekly

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.” —Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You

Discussion Questions

Consider the red string motif that runs throughout Diamond Head. Do you believe in the

idea of a red string or a superstition that runs through generations, connecting them?

Can you think of an example from your own family?

How is love defined in this novel? Is it defined by passion, (financial) security, obligation,

etc.? Does the story suggest that love is predestined or that love can be chosen and

cultivated?

Discuss the role of guilt throughout the novel. What kind of guilt does each character

feel, where does it come from and how does that guilt affect them throughout the novel?

Diamond Head offers a commentary about the role of women in Chinese culture.

Considering Lin, Amy and Theresa, what is the role of women throughout the novel, and

does it change over the course of the three generations?

Though most of the novel is told from the perspectives of Lin, Theresa and Amy, Hong

plays a very important role. Discuss Hong’s character and her role in the story.

Is Amy to blame, at least partly, for Frank’s death? Do you think she deserves to carry

that burden? Why or why not?

Discuss the role of the men in the novel. Consider Bohai, Frank, Henry and Grandpa

Chan. How is masculinity viewed within the culture and society?

Is there a single protagonist in this story? How did hearing all the different voices and

perspectives inform your attachment to the characters?

The story weaves in and out through distance and across time. What is the purpose of

telling the story in this way? How does the story’s structure tie in with the overall theme

of the novel?

Explore the mother-daughter relationships in the novel. Do the women in the novel end

up forging new lives for themselves outside of their mothers’ influences, or do they end

up becoming products of their mothers’ mistakes?

At the end of novel, Hong explains what she believes is the difference between fate and

destiny. Do you agree with her differentiation? Which characters relied on fate and which

characters relied on destiny?