The Descendants - Kaui Hart Hemmings

Title: The Descendants
Author: Kaui Hart Hemmings
Pages: 320
Published: 2011 (first published 2007)
Challenges: 2012 Support Your Library
Genre: Fiction
Edition: Movie-tie-in Trade Paperback
Source: Public Library

Description: 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. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts:  It was a relatively easy read and since I had seen the movie back in February, I could see the places that the book describes.  I found it to be a very visual book, in that the way the author describes the action in the book makes you feel as though you have been there.  But its also a book that you can also feel the emotions of Matt or at least can sense how torn he feels about making sure that his wife gets dignity in her death, but also makes sure that he becomes the father that his daughters clearly need and deserve.  Its almost like its a journey of self-discovery for Matt and to understand that he is needed by his daughters, who clearly love him.  

I also found that the Hawaiian setting added to the story, as it made Hawaii a place where people live and have the same sort of decisions that are made on the mainland, almost gives it real quality to the story rather than something that just people on vacation go to.

While I liked the first 3 parts of the book, I enjoyed the final part of the book more, as I felt it started to give me the sense that Matt had started to realize of what his purpose was going to be.  Its almost like he starts to "get it", when Matt expresses that:

It's funny that I think of them [Princess Kekipi and Edward King] as the beginning, because they are also descendants of somebody, generations of prints on their DNA, traces of human migrations.  They didn't come out of nowhere.  Everyone comes from someone who comes from someone else, and this to me is remarkable.  We can't know the people wo are in us.  We'll all have our moment at the top of the tree.  Matthew and Joan.  We'll be those two one day. (pg. 277)

Bottom line: I found it was a good, not a great book. Its the type of book that would be suitable for the beach or a long trip somewhere.  But it is also dense enough that you are forced to think about the values and history you are handing down to next generation and how you impart it to them.

Rating: 3.625/5

Pages for 2012: 11168

If you have read this book, what did you think of it?  If you haven't read, are you interested in reading the book?


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