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The Descendants | [Kaui Hart Hemmings]

The Descendants

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 is a recovering drug addict.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (876 )
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Story
4.2 (761 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Nolan Malone Hawai'i 04-06-14
    Nolan Malone Hawai'i 04-06-14 Member Since 2005

    Books have always been an escape for me: initially from my studies, now from too much work. A good story is my favorite remedy.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Maika'i loa"
    If you could sum up The Descendants in three words, what would they be?

    Brave, honest, and provocative.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    What about Jonathan Davis’s performance did you like?

    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.


    If you could rename The Descendants, what would you call it?

    Actually, the title was quite perfect.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicki 04-02-14
    Nicki 04-02-14

    Listening and loving it!

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    "Great Treatment of a Difficult Subject"

    This story provides a touching glimpse into love, loss and responsibility. Matt King is the scion of old Hawaii money, it it appears that he has it all: a lovely wife, two daughters, a career, and the decision making power over a prime piece of Kauai'i real estate. But then he doesn't have it all: The wife has a disastrous accident, the daughters are troubled, and the responsibility of the decision seems to be coming at a difficult time for him personally. The narrator's tone is perfect, and captures the sense of the main character's emotional muddle. I had seen the movie, and started to skip the book, but while the movie is very faithful to the book, the book itself seems to suspend time while the family is living through its trauma.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol D. 03-10-14
    Carol D. 03-10-14 Member Since 2007

    Audible started me reading fiction again. What a treat to have professional actors narrating a book I may not have had the time to "read".

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Depressing and sad."

    Overall this is a sad story and keeps getting more and more depressing. The lack of parenting skills attributed to the father made me cringe. Once again a father tries to be a friend instead of a parent. In real life this is a recipe for failure. What we come to learn about the mother is very disappointing as well. The only reason I didn't give it a lower rating is that oddly enough, a lot of this book was well written. Too bad the author didn't pick another subject.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Keppy Boone 12-17-13
    Keppy Boone 12-17-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Take a chance!"

    When this movie came out, I didn't think it looked very interesting. Then I came across the novel here in Audible. I had it on my wish list for a very long time, before taking the plunge and spending a credit. I am so happy that I did, because this far exceeded my expectations! I still haven't seen the movie, but I'm definitely going to look for it, as I enjoyed the book so much.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie 02-18-13
    Marie 02-18-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Story limited by the viewpoint"

    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.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brody's mom 11-13-12
    Brody's mom 11-13-12
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    "Tension in Hawaii"
    Would you listen to The Descendants again? Why?

    I would listen to it again if enough time passed after the first time. It was an interesting story.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    My favorite character was the daughter's boyfriend. He started out as a jerk and as you got to know him, it changed your opinion. He really was a help to the entire family without really trying to be.


    Have you listened to any of Jonathan Davis’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, I have not


    If you could rename The Descendants, what would you call it?

    Following the roots of family


    Any additional comments?

    I enjoyed this book and I intend to recommend it to my book club. Thanks for the chance to talk about it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Mitchell usa 11-08-12
    L. Mitchell usa 11-08-12 Member Since 2012
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    "An enjoyable read"
    Would you listen to The Descendants again? Why?

    No once was enough for this one.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Descendants?

    The confrontation with the "other man".


    What does Jonathan Davis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Great listen.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    waiting for my wife to die


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 08-04-13
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 08-04-13 Member Since 2003
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    "Of Course, Better Than The Movie"

    This was interesting to listen to, even after having seen the movie. (Did I hear George Clooney being on a T-Shirt or something in the book?) Reading this one really gets all the nuances not portrayed in the movie.

    I love the fact that this is written from the man's perspective. First, it is usually the man having the affair, not the reverse. It is also not surprising that the father is really clueless about what is really going on with his children, no less his daughters; but the mother is as well in this story. And so we hear what he is thinking about; his dawning recognition of how his wife has mishandled not only their marriage but also raising their children.

    The narration was not demanding and therefore, fine. There is nothing spectacular about the performance, but it certainly was done without problems.

    Even if you have seen the movie, but especially if you haven't, this is a great tale about families. The good parts, and the bad. Very enjoyable book.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 03-20-13
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 03-20-13 Member Since 2008

    I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "How did this make such a good movie?"

    There's something sadly missing here. The movie was sad, clunky and kind of neat because it contrasted so well with the outward lives of these people.You could feel the limits and the lacks in them.

    It's really easy to hate the mean girl qualities in the adults as well as the children. And some how, without George Cluny's eyes, much harder to forgive.

    I may or may not finish this book. So far, I want to do vile things to these very unredeemed and unredeemable brats in paradise.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Johnstown, PA, United States 06-07-12
    Carol Johnstown, PA, United States 06-07-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Just ok."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I don't think so. The charcters were not very compelling.


    What was most disappointing about Kaui Hart Hemmings’s story?

    I really didn't grow to like the mother, around whom the plot revolved.


    Which character – as performed by Jonathan Davis – was your favorite?

    The father.


    Did The Descendants inspire you to do anything?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    Disappointing.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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