Monday, 2 April 2012

Book #34 The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings

The Descendants

The Descendants was recently turned into a George Clooney film weighed down with nominations for awards. I missed it at the cinema and have yet to see it though I'm rather glad I didn't because I came to the book fresh.

The Descendants is about Matt King whose wife Joannie is in a coma following a boat accident. As hope for her dwindles, Matt realises he must become the sole parent of their daughters Alex and Scottie. With this realisation comes a second realisation, having been an indifferent uninterested passive father all their lives, he does not know them at all. He doesn't know who they are, he doesn't even know what food they like. There is a great moment of pathos in the book where Matt King hopes they won't ask him what he loves about them because he has no idea what to say.

When Alex drops the bombshell upon him that Joannie was having an affair, in search of some kind of purpose Matt takes his girls on a road trip to track down her lover so he too can say goodbye.

The Descendants is a really good book about fatherhood and parenthood and the things we pass down to the next generation. Though his family comes with a unique ancestral history, Matt King comes to realise that all he has given his girls is a story and he has never given of himself. It's a rites of passage book for a father, and provides some lovely psychological insights into the confusion and dismay of King, as well as some great emotional truths about preparing for the coming of death.

Often it is witty, but a lot of times there is sadness underneath the humour. It's well crafted too, but, even with these things, it doesn't really 'Wow' as a book, it falls short. It's worth reading but I won't be treasuring it as a beloved classic, be purchasing it for others or reading twice 8/10

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