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Diamond Head

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,259 ratings  ·  217 reviews
A sweeping debut spanning 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 ancien
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Harper
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3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,259 ratings  ·  217 reviews

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May 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Cecily Wong has accomplished one complex and intricate family saga. One family cursed by fate or by their own agency, as the story unravels, tradition and culture delved, you consider the root cause of trials and tribulations this family suffered as well as endured.

Wong managed to pique my curiosity from the beginning, I couldn’t wait for secrets to be revealed, drama to unfold, betrayals discovered, the most unsuspecting exposed, motivations examined. Quite a narrative is weaved with intriguing
Tara Chevrestt
This book is like a memoir of three different women. There's the eldest, who is rescued from an abusive father and marries a wealthy man who takes her from China to Hawaii. There's the middle, the poor girl who marries into the wealthy family, rising from a room in a basement that she shares with ten other children. And there's the youngest, pregnant and unmarried in the sixties--who didn't interest me at all because the book took too long to get to her story.

All the stories I did read could hav
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
A multi-generational story set in the early 20th century China to Hawaii 1964. I'm a sucker for historical fiction esp of different cultures so that is what intrigued me to pick up this book and it was not disappointing. I did not give it 5 stars bc I found myself skimming it by the middle trying to get to the point. The point comes at the very end but it is worth it to stick to the stories and characters. It is about destiny and fate and how we can control one but not the other. There is a "red ...more
Afoma Umesi
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was very skeptical about this book because of the mixed reviews, but I am so glad I didn’t heed the advice of the negative reviewers.

What. a. story.

Wong is a masterful storyteller and her language is pristine. The descriptive prowess in this book is overpowering and yet, it feels just right. Diamond Head is told in turns by the Leong women and it is a story of secrets. The secrets a family have kept and the ways they have been mangled by these secrets.

A soaring family saga, this book is an
nikkia neil
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edelweiss
At first, I was confused by this book, and didn't know if it made sense. Im happy I stuck with it. This book will affect your thinking. Makes you reevaluate decisions you made or told yourself someone made for you. That is the best kind of book to me. Challenges you
Dec 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I usually like a good multi-generational family saga but DIAMOND HEAD fell short for me. For some reason I never got really invested in the story.

There was something else that nagged at me and that was how dependent all the women seemed to be upon men. Maybe it was just the time period that was being covered but the female characters didn’t distinguish themselves in a way that satisfied me.

I actually bought this book for my mom for Christmas but I snuck in a quick read before passing it on.
Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
Apr 23, 2015 marked it as to-read
Shelves: histfic-asian
I only got about 50 pages in, but it's due back now-- another one of those cases where I took too many books out of the library at once. Will definitely revisit this at some point in the future, because I'm already in love with the story!
Przeznaczenie i azjatyckie, egzotyczne klimaty
May 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I borrowed this from the library, read the first chapter, and then didn't really feel inspired to pick it up again for a couple of weeks. I liked reading the descriptions of their homes and the foods they ate, and enjoyed reading about some of the Chinese traditions surrounding birth and death, but none of the characters intrigued me.

I got the notice that the book was due back in 3 days and that I couldn't renew it because someone else had requested it. I figured I'd read what I could of it in t
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
More like 4.75 stars. I loved this family saga spanning from China to Hawaii, filled with twists and turns, love and disappointment, poverty and wealth. A very slow build, but when it hits you, it hits hard. It was painful and heart wrenching, but also touching and riveting until the very last page. The flashbacks were filled with my favorite passages. Some parts of the books lagged waaaay too much, particularly those surrounding the funeral, but the rest of the story kept me glued to the page. ...more
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Goodreads and the publisher for a complimentary copy of Diamond Head. This is a debut novel by Cecily Wong, and I look forward to her future work. This was an engrossing multi-generational saga set primarily in Hawaii. The author writes with great description and atmosphere. Recommended read!
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, hist-fic
An elegant, emotional meditation and character study revolving around what it means to be family and how the actions of one generation can reverberate through the lives of those that follow. Diamond Head follows the Leongs from China to Hawaii and covers a span of over half a decade, often shifting in perspective, time, and location. Told almost entirely through the lens of the women in the family, we see how secrets both small and large can change one's life in an instant, and how good people c ...more
Margaret Higgins
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
love hawaii books
Urenna Sander
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I believe the theme is choices, secrecy and betrayal. The novel involves the three-generational saga of the wealthy Leong family. The novel begins in 1964 with Amy Chan Leong and her daughter, 19 year-old Theresa preparing to attend the funeral of her late husband, Bohai Leong

The novelist’s writing appeared uninspiring during the opening scenes concerning Bohai’s funeral. I almost lost interest. However, I suggest you not give up. Cecily Wong’s story becomes rich and powerful, as she weaves imag
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I liked it a lot.

It's a story that's mostly about women, Lin, Hong, Amy, and Theresa though Leong Fu/Frank, Bohai and Kaipo all make appearances. Even though this is a story centered around three generations of the Leong family -- it focuses on themes like love, independence, and decisions about the future.

Each of the main characters makes a choice about who to love + marry, whether to pursue riches or not, and these choices combined with circumstances determine the future.

Within the telling of
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
Review also found at

3.5 stars

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Harper via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. The expected publication date is April 14th 2015.

This was a really interesting story for me although I have to admit that it took me a while to get in to it. With the multi-generational stories and the alternating between time and stories I at first had a hard time keeping track of all of the characters. Once I s
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I almost returned this book to the library unread, and I would have missed out on an amazing book. Diamond Head captivated me from the very beginning. I am so glad I didn't let this one pass me by. The prose is beautifully written. The characters are intriguing and the changing perspectives and time periods adds nuance and complexity. It's a beautiful piece of literature and I fully intend to add it to my shelf so that I can reread it; it's one of those stories that will become so much more with ...more
Carol Brill
May 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Beautiful language immediately creates a strong sense of the Asian culture and traditions that weave through this story. Diamond Head is part family saga and part mystery and an accomplished novel. Told from multiple points of view and different points in time, for the first half of the book, I often found myself confused by the transitions, and had to keep revisiting how the characters were connected. About midway, the characters became more distinct for me, suspense mounted, and it became hard ...more
Read this whole book on my phone on the plane and loved it! My kind of book-- a sweeping family saga that takes you from Boxer Rebellion China to Oahu. The Leong family is full of secrets, compromises, fateful events told through three generations of Chinese women. A beautiful tribute to Hawaii in its early days. I will keep my eyes out for Cecily Wong in the future. Biggest joy at the end there is an interview between Wong and Celeste Ng!
Taryn Pierson
Aug 28, 2015 rated it liked it
I love a good family drama, and Wong has pieced together an elaborate one here. Multiple generations of a Chinese-Hawaiian shipping family grapple with guilty secrets, some of them pretty juicy. But for me, the book lacked forward momentum. I wanted to know what would happen next, but I didn't have to know. I wish I'd had a harder time putting it aside.

More book recommendations by me at
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in2016
Books that span generations are my jam - this was so great at that, it's just not a perspective I've read before.
Bassinbarbie Comcastnet
Not sure if I really liked the way this book ended. It was a pretty good story, but kind of predictable.
Nancy Smith
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a very sad story about people that couldn't be happy--until the last chapter! What a great turn around. Loved the characters even though there was so much disappointment.
Marionetka Literacka
Wyobraź sobie, że jesteś związany z konkretną osobą za pomocą niewidzialnej nici. Ta nić, choćby była niewyobrażalnie mocna i wytrwała – zawsze może zostać zerwana. Gdy tylko tak się stanie, na osoby połączone uczuciem, lecz nie czerwoną nicią przeznaczenia – spada klątwa, która może zniszczyć całe ich dotychczasowe życie.

Powieść „Diamentowa góra” to zawarte w książce obyczajowej historyczne fakty, głównie opowiadające o dziejach Chin oraz Hawajów. Zawarta jest tutaj stara, wywodząca się z Chin
Ingrid Fasquelle
Cecily Wong est diplômée du Barnard College et habite actuellement à New York. Elle a publié dans le Wall Street Journal, LA Review of Books et Bustle. Son premier roman, Comme un ruban de soie rouge, sur lequel elle a travaillé pendant plus de cinq ans, est un voyage merveilleux de la Chine à Hawaï, dans lequel on suit l’ascension et les drames d’une famille rongée par les secrets et les amours tragiques.
Dans cette saga familiale qui témoigne d’une époustouflante maîtrise romanesque, Cecily Won
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: china
Diamond Head relates the history of three generations of the wealthy, troubled Leong family, émigrées from China to Hawaii after the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. Wong's story opens in 1964. At a funeral held at Diamond Head. This is the location of the Leong family mansion, and the name of the story which ping-pongs back and forth through time and narrators to weave a complicated tale of damaged people making the best decisions they can. It bears a vague resemblance to the overleaf; which makes this ...more
Claudia Mccarter
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing

While I was in the airport in Maui getting ready to board the flight back to Oregon I stopped in at the little travel shop looking for a book to entertain me on the flight home.
I was attracted by the cover and was more impressed and intrigued by reading the back cover. This was a story I could get into and if Celeste No recommended it I knew I wouldn’t go wrong.
It was everything and more than I expected. The characters were alive and totally convincing. The Chinese and Hawaiian history, culture
May 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This book started out strong, but unfortunately lost it's way in a confusion of character perspectives and time frames.

A family saga of Chinese immigrants to Hawaii, it covers the early twentieth century to 1964. It beautifully evokes the sights and smells of Hawaii, the foods and the gardens. There are individual stories that deserve their own book, and others, particularly the daughter in the more modern time, that seem out of place.

In the end I was only reading it to finish, suspecting that
Jan 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I’m still waiting for Goodreads to offer half star option so I can say it’s 3.5. I admit-it took quite a while for me to finish this book. Unique form of storytelling taking place in Hawaii from several Chinese families’ perspectives. Included two significant historical events-the Pearl Harbor bombing and its economic impact on the island and the Boxer Rebellion in China that set things in motion to eventually move to Hawaii. There were also minor drop-ins about the Japanese on the island and it ...more
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Play Book Tag: Diamon Head by Cecily Wong - 3 stars 1 9 Sep 01, 2016 06:17AM  
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Cecily Wong is the author of the novel, Diamond Head, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The LA Review of Books, Self Magazine, Bustle, and elsewhere. She is a graduate of Barnard College and lives and writes in New York.
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