Written by Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Descendents is a debut novel about an unconventional family set against the lush, panoramic backdrop of Hawaii. This Fox Searchlight screen adaptation is directed by Alexander Payne.


Matthew King was once considered one of the most fortunate men in Hawaii. His missionary ancestors who came to the islands 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 has a smart-ass attitude and a desperate need for attention, and seventeen year-old Alex, a former model, is a recovering drug addict. His thrill seeking and high maintenance wife, Joanie, lies in a coma after a boat racing accident, and will soon be taken off life support. The King family can hardly picture life without their charismatic mother, 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, on a memorable journey which leads to both painful revelations and unforeseen humor and growth.


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