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The descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings

The descendants (2007)

by Kaui Hart Hemmings

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Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Set in Hawaii, this novel is a nuanced portrait of a family in distress. There’s Matt, the father who long ago checked out on his family. He’s forced to start parenting again when an accident puts his wife Joanie in a coma. He is left to reconnect with his two daughters, the troubled teen Alex, and 10-year-old Scotty who is growing up too fast, as they come to terms with Joanie’s situation.

Along the way he discovers Joanie might have been having an affair and quickly his grief becomes twisted with bitterness and confusion. He begins to question the decisions he has made over the past few years. Like most families, they are dysfunctional, yet they truly love each other.

The character of Joni is fascinating because we see her only through memories and her husband and daughter’s points of view. We never hear why she made the decisions she did, which doesn’t take anything away from the story, but it leaves us feeling as frustrated as Matt is.

This was one of the rare cases when I saw the movie first, but I’m still glad I went back and read the book. The movie version is excellent, but the book adds even more depth because we can hear Matt’s internal monologue and struggle as he tries to reconnect with his daughters and come to terms with his relationship with his wife.

BOTTOM LINE: I was surprised by how much I loved this book. Even though the two teenage daughters were annoying at times, it was necessary for the dynamic of the story. It was a great study in grief and love and all the confusing emotions in between.

“That's how you know you love someone, I guess, when you can't experience anything without wishing the other person were there to see it, too.”

“Get used to it. She'll be there for the rest of your life. She'll be there on birthdays, at Christmastime, when you get your period, when you graduate, have sex, when you marry, have children, when you die. She'll be there and she won't be there.” ( )
  bookworm12 | Jun 9, 2015 |
If you've seen the movie, you know what happens, as the cinematic version stayed remarkably faithful to the book.

Why bother with the book, then? Because it's written in the intimacy of the 1st person, it's much funnier and also much more moving than the distance of celluloid could convey.

Enjoyed the movie. Loved the book. ( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
I watched the movie first and fell in love with it--the cinematography, the writing, the cast. I didn't realize it was a book until last year, and so I went out and bought it.

The plot in the movie is pretty true to Hemmings' book: It follows Matt King and his immediate family following the trail of the deceased and the soon-to-be. It's mostly real; however, I think Sid's character is over-the-top and unrealistic at times, but otherwise, comical. What I found is that this novel reminds me of Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" for some obvious reasons. What Hemmings succeeds in is creating a portrait of a dying wife, mother, secret girlfriend, woman, and human being through the perspective of a spectator who's left to put together the pieces of a failed marriage, his own life, and the lives of his two girls.

Two parts cohesive and heartfelt, one part on the verge of an outsider's teen read, "The Descendants" is a nice vacation for someone wanting to escape to interesting drama.

4 outta 5 ( )
  Max-Tyrone | Feb 7, 2015 |
This book surprised me. Recommended by a friend I didn't think it would be my thing but the plot sounded interesting enough.

I'm very glad I did. It's a quick easy read but wow it makes an impact. This is Hemmings first novel I believe but I shall be watching her closely.

It's funny and touching without becoming schmaltzy (which considering the plot it could have been). The reason I gave it 4 stars is because it's not consistent. Some parts seem slightly like filling.
( )
  ElaineRuss | Sep 23, 2013 |
Hm, torn between giving 3 or 4 stars, I finally settled on 3.
The male perspective was rare to me and interesting to read, the book contained a lot of refreshing, realistic situations, like having to think of something funny or totally mundane in a situation where you're expected to be shocked or sad.
I liked the plot and wanted to continue reading, but somehow in the last 2-3 chapters, I completely lost interest in the characters and their fate. I don't know why. It left me shrugging my shoulders and thinking "whatever".
I'm looking forward to see the movie some day though. ( )
  borhap | Aug 27, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812982959, Paperback)

Now a major motion picture starring George Clooney and directed by Alexander Payne

Fortunes have changed for the King family, descendants of Hawaiian royalty and one of the state’s largest landowners. Matthew King’s daughters—Scottie, a feisty ten-year-old, and Alex, a seventeen-year-old recovering drug addict—are out of control, and their charismatic, thrill-seeking mother, Joanie, lies in a coma after a boat-racing accident. She will soon be taken off life support. As Matt gathers his wife’s friends and family to say their final goodbyes, a difficult situation is made worse by the sudden discovery that there’s one person who hasn’t been told: the man with whom Joanie had been having an affair. Forced to examine what they owe not only to the living but to the dead, Matt, Scottie, and Alex take to the road to find Joanie’s lover, on a memorable journey that leads to unforeseen humor, growth, and profound revelations.

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(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:16 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A descendant of royalty and one of the largest landowners in Hawaii, Matthew King struggles to deal with his out-of-control daughters--ten-year-old Scottie and seventeen-year-old Alex--as well as his comatose wife, whom they are about to remove from life support.… (more)

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