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.
I am probably the only person on earth that does not think George Clooney is eye candy. I find him quite aloof and have never been a fan. Naturally, I didn’t watch this movie at the theaters or on DVD. I came across this book while searching on overdrive.com for a book. I am reviewing another book, Tiger Baby Strikes Back by Kim Wong Keltner, and wanted to read the book Kim writes in reference to: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. When The Descendants popped up on my screen, I read the synopsis and was actually intrigued by the storyline.
I have to admit, the story quickly drew me in. Told through Matt’s point of view, I was able to experience his journey of stepping up in his role of father, coming to terms with the imminent death of his wife, and accepting choices his family makes. It was really challenging to like Matt’s character. As a lawyer and wealthy descendant of a Princess, he seemed quite weak, very passive, aloof (hmmmm…sounds like an actor I also associate that word with), who was just too difficult to like or feel sorry for.
Because of his lack of assertiveness and willingness to look the other way with his wife’s infidelity and the choices both his daughters made, I was surprised he was an attorney. I assume that as an attorney, he will want to know everything about his family, be more focused, and not so aloof. It seemed that before the accident, he really was an absentee father and husband. Faced with the impending decision to take his wife off of life support, he begins to visit all their friends to let them know Joanie is dying and if they want to, to go by and visit and pay their respects.
I did like the fact that the story is set on one of the islands of Hawaii. I’ve been there and it’s absolutely gorgeous and I could just live there and be so content. But, this book shows that even on the prettiest islands, some of the saddest and hardest things happen to everyday people. Also, there were a few moments I laughed, but for the most part, I really just didn’t care for the character of Matt. Because of his lack of involvement with his family, his daughter is sent to boarding school, his young daughter copies a friend-Reina, and his wife tries to get his lover a huge money making deal that indirectly involves Matt. In the end, Matt does find closure, steps up to the plate as a father, and the 3 of them become the family they all wanted to be.
So, I’m thinking this may be one of those exceptions where the movie is better than the book?? I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m curious to see how it is interpreted on screen!
- Family matters (patebooks.wordpress.com)
- Alexander Payne the Descendants 2011 Nyff Closing Night Gala Main Slate Announced (binsidetv.net)
- Archive Review – “The Descendants” (Director: Alexander Payne) (thewanderingbookworm.wordpress.com)