In Cecily Wong's heartbreaking Kaleidoscope, the death of a young woman ripples through members of a family in varied ways as they attempt to reshape their lives around her absence.
The Brightons are known as the rags-to-riches founders of Kaleidoscope, an "Eastern-inspired retailer that has... swept the country." Their daughters are instrumental to their image and the business, with their eldest, Morgan, sourcing and styling luxury goods from around the world. When she is killed in a freak accident, she leaves behind devastated parents, a collapsing business empire and a younger sister. And Riley has no sense of how to live her life if not in her sister's shadow.
Kaleidoscope moves through time in short, nonlinear bursts. Through Riley's eyes, Wong (Diamond Head; Gastro Obscura, with Dylan Thuras) takes readers from the Brightons' early days in business to Riley's eventual backpacking journey around the world with her dead sister's boyfriend; from high school parties and girlhood bonds to aimless, meandering walks around New York City as a college student; from living "entirely in my parents' palm, like a creature from a lesser planet" to reckoning with being "forced to see myself" in Morgan's absence. Wong weaves these snippets together as Riley deals with her grief in ways her parents cannot understand but that become clear to readers as Kaleidoscope unfolds into a novel much bigger than the sum of its parts: a story of family, grief and identity and what it means to make a life out of an "opportunity, an aberration, scooped up through... unspeakable loss." --Kerry McHugh, freelance writer