Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Descendants

The Descendants, by Kaui Hart Hemmings

After seeing the movie before reading the book, I could not get George Clooney as Matt King out of my head. That's not a bad thing. :) I had dragged my dear hubby to see "The Descendants" when we stayed at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in March, and we cried through the movie. I didn't cry during the book...guess that is the difference between a book and a movie (except in the case of Wonder, which had me crying throughout).

This book, expanded from a short story, was beautifully written. Hemmings has a keen understanding of the way teenagers think and act (especially those who do not get enough affection or guidance from their parents!). The book is stronger than the movie in that we get to understand Matt's inner life and motivations. His transformation is a bit deeper and more understandable in the book for that reason.

It clearly is a novel of place. Hawaii is ever present, as is its culture, history, and tensions between native Hawaiians and white people. Hemmings also handles the concepts of death and grief in a sensitive, loving, and realistic way.

Most of the colorful characters are not particularly likable, but I liked this book anyway. Joanie is in a coma, but we get a sense of her (I would probably have liked her even less if she had been conscious). Matt grows from a man who is uncomfortable with affection into one who comes to appreciate his family and what he has...a man who can actually say "I love you" to daughters who are completely unaccustomed to hearing that from anyone.

Just had to throw in a few photos from the movie because. Well, George Clooney.

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