Sunday, September 30, 2012

Reading: The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings

I heard about The Descendants because of the film adaption starring George Clooney that was advertised a lot of TV.  My grandma bought the DVD and gave it to my family as an Easter present and I decided to watch it with my good friend Kelly.  The film was good and I decided it would be a pretty cool book to read.  I don't know why but even though I see film adaptions, I can't usually go without reading the books even though I know what is going to happen.  There is just something unique that happens when you read a book that can't be explained.  Same can be said for movies of course, but I prefer the books. :)

The Descendants is about a man named Matt King who's wife is in a coma after a water accident.  Matt has just found out that his wife is not going to wake up and now has to tell his two daughters and everyone close to him so they can say their goodbyes.  This is the same time his oldest daughter decides to tell him that his wife has been cheating on him.  Matt then decides to go on a journey with his daughters and his oldest daughter's friend named Sid to hunt his wife's lover down while he also goes on a journey of self-discovery.  Kinda sounds cheesy when I put it that way but it's actually quite lovely.  Throughout this entire process Matt also feels the pressure from his family to sign an important document which will give away acres of land and give him and his cousins big bucks. 

One thing I loved about this book was the theme of acceptance and forgiveness.  Throughout the book Matt constantly struggles with his two daughters and their ragging personalities.  He tries to figure them out but learns he will never be able to do so if he doesn't kneel down to a personal level.  His first born constantly sends insults to her dying mother's way yet Matt, while comforted, corrects her and tells her to not insult her mother.  He knows what his wife did is wrong but he doesn't want to give his daughters a bad image of their mom (even though his oldest daughter doesn't have much of a chance with that now).  The book also has an underlying theme of tranquility and not letting material things cloud our judgement.  Matt struggles when thinking about the land he has to sign away and how big of a commitment it would be to do so or not do so.  He wants his daughters to grow up in a world that is good and fair and he doesn't want to be a negative example towards that.  While these are many good points to the novel, there was one thing that I found extremely annoying: the dialogue!  The dialogue was so unrealistic and so cheesy at times that I could barely stand it.  The movie basically copies the dialogue word for word and while usually I would praise this tactic, I wish they would have changed it.  Sometimes the dialogue is really raw and other times I wonder how anyone would buy such a sentence.  It just annoyed me to no end.

Overall, I liked the book and recommend it for everyone to read.  It was really good.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars

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