Now a major motion picture starring George Clooney!
Matthew King was once considered one of the most fortunate men in Hawaii. His missionary ancestors who came to the islands were financially and culturally progressive - one even married a Hawaiian princess, making Matt a royal descendant and one of the state’s largest landowners. But now his luck has changed. His two daughters are out of control - 10-year-old Scottie has a smart-ass attitude and a desperate need for attention and 17-year-old Alex, a former model, is a recovering drug addict. His thrill-seeking and high-maintenance wife, Joanie, lies in a coma after a boat racing accident, and will soon be taken off life support.
The King family can hardly picture life without their charismatic mother, 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.
©2007 Kaui Hart Hemmings. All rights reserved. (P)2010 BBC America Audiobooks
"Matt's journey with his girls forms the emotional core of this sharply observed, frequently hilarious and intermittently heartbreaking look at a well-meaning but confused father trying to hold together his unconventional family." (Publishers Weekly)
"[An] audaciously comic début novel.... Hemmings channels the voice of her befuddled middle-aged hero with virtuosity, as he teeters between acerbic and sentimental, scoffing at himself even as he grasps for redemption." (The New Yorker)
Always blown away when a female author can write from a first-person, male point of view. This beautiful, subtle story about family and tragedy and the nuances of familial love and the complexity of marriage is a rare, delicious find. Also love the sense of place -- like spending time in Hawaii ... I never wanted to leave! Kaui Hart Hemmings is the first writer I've found in a long time that I want to see more from. She's outstanding.
Books have always been an escape for me: initially from my studies, now from too much work. A good story is my favorite remedy.
Brave, honest, and provocative.
As someone who still has much to learn about Hawai'i, its people, and its history, even I tire at the endless cliches and myths that generally get recycled in books, television programs, and films. Ms. Hemmings' book conveys a part of Hawai'i culture that is rarely portrayed and is perhaps a bit uncomfortable to read. Oddly enough, although the circumstances presented may be unique to Hawai'i, the internal struggles of the characters are likely far more universal.
I think Mr. Davis did an outstanding job with some amazing material. My one wish, however, is that the producers had provided some guidance on the pronunciation of the Hawaiian and pidgin words in the text.
Actually, the title was quite perfect.
This is one strong and amazing story. A father trying to reconnect with his children and come to terms with losing his spouse (who, he finds out, was leaving him all along). Beautifully written and deeply touching. Highly recommend.
Post apocalyptic listener with some thrillers mixed in. Follow me on twitter at @drewsant
I’m not sure what to make of this book. I found myself enjoying it despite the fact that I hate pretty much every character in it! A couple of spoiled brats, and absent father, and a stoned boyfriend don’t make for a likable bunch but the story is so well written and engaging I couldn’t help liking it and wanting to read on. The plight they find themselves in is heartbreaking but the journey they take really got me thinking more than a book has in a while.
There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson
I'd already seen the movie version when I read this book. I am trying to think of some ways that the book is different. It's hard to come up with any. SO, I Googled it! Here's one idea I came up with (see below), but I don't know if I agree with the part about how the movie villainizes Matt's wife. I thought she seemed pretty villainous in the book! I can't really remember how she was different in the movie, frankly. My friend who is teaching this book says that in the movie Julie, the wife, does NOT try to push that one developer as the buyer of the family land that is about to be sold off. I thought she DID do the same in the book and the movie on that point. I guess I need to review the movie!
"The loss of internal narrative always makes the transition from book to movie difficult, and this is no exception. Unlike the novel, the movie virtually villainizes Matt’s wife and paints a far more negative picture of his relationship with her. The novel allows for a much more nuanced version of this story, and this is Hemmings’s most impressive literary feat: she brings to life a character that is comatose for the entire novel. Payne chooses not to do this, and I think this is the major flaw of the film; it makes Matt’s grief a little less complex (if she was such a witch and he was so unhappy, why such a tearful goodbye?), though it makes Alexandra’s anger much more accessible.".... onthedanforth.ca
I saw the movie a while back , but enjoyed the book more. ( although who doesn't like looking at George Clooney). I thought the narrator sounded like George so it was a very enjoyable experience. Good story but darker than we expected when we saw the movie, but knowing the story , it was fun to listen to.
Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.
I'll have to say that while I liked this book, it was a bit different from what I had expected. I am the one person who lives in a cave and had neither seen the movie, nor knew anything about it before listening to this. So my opinion is based not on seeing the movie first, but on listening to the very sensitively performed narration of Jonathon Davis (perhaps the best feature of this book).
Although there are some lighter moments, I will almost have to say that I felt that the wife's laying dying was not the only tragedy. Possibly the other one was a father having to ask his two daughters' nanny to tell him what sorts do things they liked, and finding out things about them through taking on the parenting role when they are 10 and 17.
What he finds are teens desperately in need of his parenting and attention, but is it already too late? I did not find Matt King to be likable in the beginning, though he grew on me through the book. (But that is good writing.)
The book gets its title, "The Descendants", because of his ancestors (including a Hawaiian princess) who owned some now-valuable land in Hawaii that he is trying to decide whether to sell. It could equally have been called "The Disengaged," based on how so much of the story is about his trying to step into the role of being a parent in the wife's place. To me, that was almost more of a sadness than the wife being in a coma, dying.
This is a good book, in that it totally draws the listener into these lives and conveys this family and their revelations all done through the eyes of the father, who is trying to handle more personal challenges than he has apparently been used to. Even through the first person narrative, he manages to convey his and his daughters' stories and confused lives very well.
I am surprised I did find much to like about this book because I generally dislike stories told in the first person present viewpoint. The limitations of this viewpoint, especially the difficulty of sustaining it over a long story, do catch up with the author. It was hard to feel connected to a story when you really couldn't "see" it. Setting and description are limited. Matt, the viewpoint character, felt flat and shallow. And not too bright for an attorney. I did love the secondary characters, especially daughters and Sid. The narrator was good.
great story about love.
learn to pronounce hawaiian words correctly, as a kamaaina would.
they couldn't even pronounce the author's name correctly.
Do not know, haven't read the print version.
His tone and his exuberance.
All books I want to listen to in one sitting, so, I guess that yes would be my answer.
Good book with every emotion known to us throughout its pages. To learn about this family with its trials and tribulations, its loves and losses, brought you into their world and made you smile, laugh, cry, and care. The way he dealt with his personal issues was truly awe inspiring and how he tried and succeeded in his understanding of the people who came into their lives for whatever reason was what each of us should strive for in our own dealings with others.
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