The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings
Title: The Descendants
Author: Kaui Hart Hemmings
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 5-15-07
Genre: Literary Fiction/Contemporary
Matthew King was once considered one 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 with this tragedy, their sadness is mixed with a sense of freedom that shames them–and spurs them into surprising actions.
This book was a good, solid 4 stars for me. I picked it up from the library a couple of weeks ago because my boyfriend had been bugging me to read it, so that we can watch the movie version. Going into the book, I had absolutely no idea what it was about, but ended up loving it anyway.
The Descendants is a pretty quick read that takes place in Hawaii. It revolves around a middle-aged man and his family — a dying wife in a coma, his two daughters (10 years old and 18 years old), and his older daughter’s best friend, Sid, who isn’t actually related to them but acts like he is. The novel doesn’t have a whole lot of action; it’s more about the family learning about each other, all in the face of this tragedy.
The main character, Mike, doesn’t know a whole lot about his daughters, as he was a very absent father before his wife’s accident. Hilarious and heartbreaking, The Descendants is a novel about growing up and growing together. The characters are almost too real, and will remind you of people you know in real life…maybe even yourself, if you take a good, hard look.