From Catherine Given
Author: Kaui Hart Hemmings
The descendants: a novel
By now you’ve probably seen either The Descendants’ promos or the movie featuring George Clooney and Beau Bridges. In the novel it’s based on, Hemmings provides a sensitive account of the dealings of a comfortably numb man. Matthew, the mostly emotionally absent father of a wacky,disconnected family, along with daughters Alex, a scornful young adult, and Scottie, who’s ten going on 30, have just suffered a great shock. His wife, Joanie, has had a boat-racing accident, leaving the threesome in limbo, for the first time totally dependent on each other.
Matthew hasn’t spent any time with the girls as they were too young to relate to. He’s been so busy preserving his founding Hawaiian family’s legacy that he and his kids are strangers to each other. “I come from the school of thought where a dad’s absence is something to be counted on,” he says. . . . “I remember the girls sort of bothered me as babies, the way everyone raced around to accommodate them. . . .It felt like I was living with royalty.”
These characters are beautifully delineated, realistically flawed and out of necessity, it seems, eventually nurturing to one another. You’ll feel you know them well by the time a few plot twists have churned and settled to momentary stillness, like a surge of Hawaiian surf. Their newly-reconstituted family’s warm but bumpy ride has just begun.