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The Descendants

A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Now a major motion picture starring George Clooney and directed by Alexander Payne.

Fortunes have changed for the King family, descendants of Hawaiian royalty and one of the state’s largest landowners. Matthew King’s daughters—Scottie, a feisty ten-year-old, and Alex, a seventeen-year-old recovering drug addict—are out of control, and their charismatic, thrill-seeking mother, Joanie, lies in a coma after a boat-racing accident. She will soon be taken off life support. As Matt gathers his wife’s friends and family to say their final goodbyes, a difficult situation is made worse by the sudden discovery that there’s one person who hasn’t been told: the man with whom Joanie had been having an affair. Forced to examine what they owe not only to the living but to the dead, Matt, Scottie, and Alex take to the road to find Joanie’s lover, on a memorable journey that leads to unforeseen humor, growth, and profound revelations.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Kaui Hart Hemmings's The Possibilities.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 05, 2007 – Hemmings's bittersweet debut novel, an expansion of her first published short story ("The Minor Wars," from House of Thieves and originally published in StoryQuarterly), stars besieged and wryly introspective attorney Matt King, the land-rich descendant of Hawaiian royalty and American missionaries and entrepreneurs. He wrestles with the decision of whether to keep his swath of valuable inherited land or sell it to a real estate developer. But even more critical, Matt also has to decide whether to pull the plug on his wife, Joanie, who has been in an irreversible coma for 23 days following a boat-racing accident. Then Matt finds out that Joanie was having an affair with real estate broker Brian Speer, impelling him to travel with his two daughters precocious 10-year-old Scottie and fresh from rehab 17-year-old Alex from Oahu to Kauai to confront Brian. Matt finds out the truth about Joanie and Brian, which influences his decision about what to do with his family's on-the-block land and complicates his plans for Joanie. 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.

Customer Reviews

Wonderful story

Beautiful story well written. Will recommend to our book club for discussion of the characters- especially Matt and the journey that he takes through it with his daughters.

The Descendants

It's been a very long time since a novel consumed me like this one...I finished it in five hours, alternately laughing out loud and crying. Being an RN and also experiencing my own moms' final days of hospice before passing away, I appreciated and was amazed by the way the author captured the duality of waiting for the inevitable, while resisting it's inevitability. Wow! What an amazing book! Our parents are complicated people...whether one or the other's passing leaves you with the one you were more comfortable with or the one you struggled to find common ground with, their relationship affects how a child feels about the surviving parent, and in the aftermath of loss, a new and sometimes better bond between the one's "left behind" is forged. You wouldn't trade this relationship for the world, but it came at a price...the loss of a parent. This book explores that and so many other dynamics with such strong literary skills. The writing flows, the storyline keeps you focused, and the dialogue is smart. The Descendants rings true about humans and our flaws, and celebrates that the ties that feel like they bind us can also be the roots that anchor all depends on how we see them.


Started this book on my way from Cleveland to Mississippi and finished it on the way back. Loved it!!! Touching to the end!!

The Descendants
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  • $1.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: May 15, 2007
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings