cover image Kaleidoscope


Cecily Wong. Dutton, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-18445-5

Wong (Diamond Head) captures the fierce bond and stark differences between two mixed-race Chinese American sisters, one of whom dies in a freak accident, in her penetrating latest. After a family vacation in India, Hank and Karen Liu Brighton open an import and textiles boutique called Kaleidoscope in Eugene, Ore., to cash in on Americans’ interest in Eastern aesthetics. Soon, they move to New York City to open a new Kaleidoscope branch, just as their older daughter, Morgan, begins studying at the Parsons School of Design in the city. Morgan becomes the company’s main designer, shaping vibrant Indian-inspired textiles into a panoply of culturally appropriated styles such as kimonos and Mexican embroidery, while her sister Riley, ever the observer, studies anthropology at Barnard. Then, Morgan is killed by a collapsed construction crane. Hank and Karen find refuge in sleeping pills and alcohol while Kaleidoscope wanes; Riley blindly wanders Manhattan collecting newspaper articles detailing Morgan’s death; and Morgan’s boyfriend, James, quits his job and plans a whirlwind monthslong trip abroad accompanied by Riley. After Karen reveals secrets that undermine Riley’s impression of her seemingly perfect sister, she wishes she’d been more help to Morgan. The author balances her characters’ palpable emotions with whip-smart commentary on cultural commodification, as the sisters joke about their parents’ “Doors of the World” fundraiser, in which doors procured from various countries are auctioned off to wealthy donors. It’s a smash. Agent: Meredith Kaffel Simonoff, Gernert Company. (July)