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The Descendants stars George Clooney and Shailene Woodley: My take on the book

I saw the trailer for The Descendants before I started reading the book. So now, about halfway through my reading I can't get the picture of George Clooney out of my mind. Which, honestly, isn't such a bad thing! Clooney plays Matt King, a Hawaiian-based lawyer whose wife is in a coma. King, who in the past has left the role of parenting to his wife, now has to find a way to help his daughters, 10 year old Scottie and 17 year old Alex, through the crisis. All while trying to come to grips with his suspicion his wife was having an affair as well as having to make a decision as to who he will select to buy a royal Hawaiian inheritance of thousands of acres of land, heretofore locked in trust. The deal will make him, as well as scores of his fellow descendants, very very rich. 


Kaui Hart Hemmings drops us into the heart of the story, and the heart of the familial struggle. King is a good guy but in the past he's been a workaholic, unavailable as a father and a husband. He's admittedly clueless about the lives of his children having left that role to Joanie. It was easier to turn a blind eye to to the happenings on the home-front, leaving him to pursue the world of work. Now, with wife Joanie comatose in a hospital bed, he's forced to spend time getting to know Scottie and Alex and he's shocked over and over again as he learns who his daughters really are.  

It's a thoroughly engaging book, Hemming's characters are real and complex alternately infuriating and heartbreaking. Scottie, a ten year old texting demon shares none of her mother's beauty genes but an alarming tendency toward mean girl behavior. Alex, the elder sister, is a beauty just like mom and just like mom has issues with alchohol and drugs. Getting to know these young women and their hapless father makes for compelling reading and I'm excited to see the screen version of their story directed by Alexander Payne. 

One of Scottie's wardrobe choices - she wears graphic t-shirts bearing messages like Vote for Pedro, which of course leaves King mystified - I predict won't show up on the screen: her t shirt with Mrs. Clooney emblazoned on the front.

"Scottie and I walk down the hall. Her T-shirt says MRS. CLOONEY, and she's wearing wooden clogs that ti-tap-ti-tap-ti-tap on every step. The hospital is so busy, you'd think they were having some kind of going-out-of-business sale."