The Descendants, by Kaui Hart Hemmings (2007)

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Interest Level: Adult
The DescendantsHere’s a nice switch from my focus on fiction for young adults. This is fiction for middle-aged adults. Those of us in that range will recognize the feeling of shock and confusion Matt King displays throughout this spectacular novel – sheer puzzlement over exactly how he has gotten from there to here. What is here? It’s in the last days of his wife’s coma from a speedboating accident, made unimaginably worse by the discovery his wife has been having an affair. How to feel? What to say? With remarkable perceptiveness about the human spirit, Hemmings reveals a family in great pain, resorting often to shocking behaviour and humour to guard against the tears. I found myself laughing (though never crying – I’m a toughie) and ultimately cheering for Matt, his daughters, and Sid, a not-quite boyfriend to Matt’s eldest daughter. This novel will resonate with those of us who love Canadian fiction too. Hawaii plays a vital though silent role in the novel, an imposing weight of history, landscape and tradition that threatens to smother Matt at times, but ultimately helps him determine the course of his future.
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