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The Descendants


The Descendants Cover

ISBN13: 9780812977820
ISBN10: 0812977823
Condition: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. What do you think of Joanie? Is she a harmless thrill-seeker or a well-meaning but self-absorbed mother?

2. At first Matt struggles to engage his daughters in a meaningful way; the familys shared tragedy eventually brings him closer. How are father-daughter relationships different than those between mothers and daughters?

3. What role does Sid play in this novel? Do you think he impedes or facilitates Matt Kings renewed relationship with his daughters?

4. What do you think of Scotties journal? How can you analyze her strange behavior-why do you think she acts out the ways she does?

5. How would you describe Matt as a father? Do you think its irresponsible of him to include his kids on the journey to find the man that his wife was having an affair with? How does he evolve over the course of The Descendants?

6. In what ways is the depiction of Alex realistic in terms of the ways teenagers cope with crisis? Were you surprised she was aware of her mothers infidelity? Do you think young adults more aware of the adult world around them than we give them credit for?

7. Who is at fault for Joanie and Matts marriage falling apart?

8. What was unique about the Hawaiian setting of the book and how did it enhance or take away from the story?

9. What specific themes did the author emphasize throughout the novel? What do you think she is trying to get across to the reader?

10. Do the characters seem real and believable to you? Can you relate to their predicaments?

11. Do you believe the Kings will have a better life without Joanie? How do you feel about the ending of this book? How do you picture the familys future?

12. Did certain parts of the book make you uncomfortable? If so, why did you feel that way? Did this lead to a new understanding or awareness of some aspect of your life you might not have thought about before?

13. In what ways is The Descendants a survival story? A love story? An adventure story?

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

scotts, June 11, 2012 (view all comments by scotts)
It is a rare treat to find a book that tackles marriage, infidelity, death, and parenting in one ambitious story. Rarer still to find a novel that does so with humor, grace, and wisdom. But, that is exactly what Kaui Hart Hemmings provides in The Descendants. A remarkable story told from a father's point-of-view as he deals with the issues that make our lives so interesting and intense. The novel reads almost as a road trip as we follow Matt King through a difficult few weeks dealing with his two daughters, the sale of a family trust, and the final days of his wife's life. The sparse writing matches the character perfectly, and the observational humor keeps the characters (and story) from taking itself too seriously. Over too soon, I could not put this book down. Hemmings is a fresh voice and a genuine pleasure to read.
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Product Details

Hemmings, Kaui Hart
Random House Trade
Domestic fiction
General Fiction
Family saga
Literature-A to Z
Literature-Family Life
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
May 2008
Grade Level:
8 x 5.2 x 0.7 in 0.5 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Family Life
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

The Descendants Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Random House Trade - English 9780812977820 Reviews:
"Review" by , "So many issues to chew on, and Hemmings articulates Matt's frustration and reluctant sense of responsibility with clarity and wit....[A] smart, well-paced exploration of a once-clueless father finally finding his place in his family and land."
"Review" by , "With beautiful and blunt prose, Hemmings explores the emotional terrain of grief, promising something far more fulfilling than paradise at its end."
"Review" by , "Evincing a sublimely mature style and beguiling command of theme and setting, Hemmings' virtuoso performance offers a piquantly tender and winsomely comic portrait of a singular family's revealing response to tragedy."
"Review" by , "Hemmings' talent as a writer, a shaper of an indelible story and characters, is both affecting and clear."
"Review" by , "[An] audaciously comic début....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."
"Review" by , "Story writer Kaui Hart Hemmings has published a first novel with a family as wealthy as any that will appear in serious fiction this season, and as flat-out unhappy....It's a fine debut."
"Review" by , "Hemmings is a determinedly unsentimental writer, and she manages her hazardous subject matter...in a dry, understated way, subverting her characters without reducing them utterly....[H]er comic sense is finely honed in this refreshingly wry debut novel."
"Synopsis" by , Narrated in a bold, fearless, unforgettable voice and set against the lush, panoramic backdrop of Hawaii, The Descendants is a stunning debut novel about an unconventional family forced to come together and re-create its own legacy.

Matthew King was once considered one of the most fortunate men in Hawaii. His missionary ancestors were financially and culturally progressive–one even married a Hawaiian princess, making Matt a royal descendant and one of the state’s largest landowners.

Now his luck has changed. His two daughters are out of control: Ten-year-old Scottie is a smart-ass with a desperate need for attention, and seventeen-year-old Alex, a former model, is a recovering drug addict. Matt’s charismatic, thrill-seeking, high-maintenance wife, Joanie, lies in a coma after a boat-racing accident and will soon be taken off life support. The Kings can hardly picture life without her, 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.

Before honoring Joanie’s living will, Matt must gather her friends and family to say their final goodbyes, a difficult situation made worse by the sudden discovery that there is one person who hasn’t been told: the man with whom Joanie had been having an affair, quite possibly the one man she ever truly loved. Forced to examine what he owes not only to the living but to the dead, Matt takes to the road with his daughters to find his wife’s lover, a memorable journey that leads to both painful revelations and unforeseen humor and growth.

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