I may be getting ahead of myself, for those who are not familiar, "The Descendants" is the story of the King family. We meet them as the mother, Joanie is in hospital after falling into a coma resulting from a boating accident. At first things seem optimistic, but eventually they do have to say goodbye and we follow the family through this journey, as they tell their friends and family and deal with other issues that have come to light as well.
In addition to the stress of his wife being in a coma Matt, the father is also trying to make an important decision about selling off a land trust that he has inherited. The King family own a large portion of land in Hawaii and after the death of his father, Matt must decide the fate of the family's land as he happens to have the largest stake in the trust.
As if that isn't enough for one person to have to deal with all at once, Matt is also trying to be an active parent to his two daughters aged 10 and 18. Scottie, the younger one hasn't been told the extent of her mother's situation, so she keeps hoping for the best. She is in that transitional phase between childhood and impending adolescence. Matt worries considerably about his daughter and is constantly shocked by her behaviour, language and friends. He has been a mostly absent parent, he let parenting take a back seat to his law career. Now with their mother incapacitated he is trying to do the best he can to be the parent that his two daughters need.
That being said, Matt is an unconventional parent. One example is when a friend's child insists on being called Spiderman all the time, Matt is the only one that could change his mind. The way he accomplished that is by telling the kid that Spiderman has a vagina and pointing that out on the doll. His daughters swear and talk freely around him, then he is shocked that they don't respect authority, even though he was never really around to impose that authority in the first place.
Obviously one of the main themes is descendants, how Matt treated his elders versus how young people today treat theirs. How young people today could never hope to achieve more than the generation that came before since so much has already been discovered, invented or accomplished. How the children seemed determined to self destruct because of it.
All in all, I very much enjoyed reading this book, and I hope to not be too disappointed when I see the movie. Already from googling the book, I found that they changed the wife's name from Joanie to Elizabeth and that just irks me. Why use a book as your source material then change things like that!