Jan 4, 2012

The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings

The Descendants

The Descendants
Author:  Kaui Hart Hemmings
Publisher:  Random House
Publication Date:  May 15th 2007

From Goodreads:

Mathew King was once considered on of the most fortunate men in Hawaii.  His missionary ancestors were financially and culturally progressive - one even married a Hawaiian princess, making Matt a royal descendant and one of the state's largest landowners..

Now his luck has changed.  His two daughters are out of control:  Ten year old Scottie is a smart - ass with a desperate need for attention, and seventeen year old Alex, a former model, is a recovering drug addict.  Matt's charismatic, thrill- seeking,high-maintenance wife, Joanie, lies in a coma after a boat - racing accident and will soon be taken off life support.  The Kings can hardly picture life without her, but as they come to terms wit this tragedy, their sadness is mixed with a sense of freedom that shames them - and spurs them into surprising actions.  

Before honoring Joanie's living will, Matt must gather her friends and family to say their final goodbyes, a difficult situation made worse by the sudden discovery there is one person who hasn't been told: the man whom Joanie had been having an affair, quite possibly the one man she ever truly loved.  Forced to examine what he owes not only the living but to the dead, Matt takes to the road with his daughters to find his wife's lover, a memorable journey that leads to both painful revelations and unforeseen humor and growth.


I was very disappointed with The Descendants.  I expected more character insight, instead getting bratty kids and a MC that somehow comes off spineless instead of capable.  

Though I did dislike The Descendants I still found some parts quite engaging and heartfelt.  The struggles Matt faces when he finds out his wife was having a affair is raw and emotional.  How can he get mad at his wife if she is dying?  How does he manage to do what's right for his children and wife after feeling so betrayed by her?  Ultimately the MC's struggle with his emotions is what kept me reading till the end.  I wanted to know if he came out okay in the end.  

The story was told almost in a passive way.  Very slowly and kind of 'whatever' at moments.  Am I suppose to not like Joanie or am I suppose to understand her and at the end, like her.  Because I just didn't plain like her, yet the writing I felt kept nudging me to try to understand her and sympathize, I just couldn't. As for the daughters they were a hand full and so irritating that I almost DNF'd it.  If they didn't start showing some growing up I probably would have chucked it. 

The Descendants have some great beautiful written parts but as a whole it didn't do it for me.  


  1. Well that's disappointing! The movie is getting oscar buzz though. I do plan on seeing the movie but I'll skip the book for this one!

  2. I want to see the movie also. I think it will translate better on film, plus it's George Clooney..come one!

  3. I happen to have a very similar feeling toward this book. It was a good read but overall it wasn't INCREDIBLE. I know the book is being discussed on the 25th of Elaine Charles' show and she has the greatest insight to discussions on books so I'm hoping to get a better understanding of how I feel about the book. I think you would enjoy it.. you can listen here or check the schedule http://bookreportradio.com/

    But none the less a lot of the host's discussions and interviews are extremely interesting and for you who loves books I think its a great show. Host is Elaine Charles.. dont know if you have heard of her or not. I follow her twitter wise because she does recommend great books. https://twitter.com/#!/ElaineCharles1

  4. Great book. Not the novel I was expecting but all the more enjoyable because of it. I now want to see the film.


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