> Skip to content

Narrated in a fearless voice full of bold hilarity and set against the lush, panoramic backdrop of Hawaii, The Descendants is a stunning debut novel about an unconventional family forced to come together and re-create its own legacy.

A descendant of one of Hawaii's largest landowners, Matt King finds his luck changed when his fun-loving, flighty wife Joanie falls into a coma, victim of a boating accident. Matt is left in sole charge of his two daughters, teenage ex-model and recovering drug addict Alex, and Scottie, a feisty ten-year-old. And then Matt discovers Joanie has been having an affair. Deciding to seek out Joanie's lover so that he too has a chance to say his goodbyes, Matt takes to the road with his daughters on a memorable journey of painful revelations and unexpected humour...


Gripping and funny... A brave and intelligent novel

Sunday Telegraph

Shockingly irreverent and funny while exerting that all-important emotional tug... A well-plotted, unexpectedly twisting saga


Kaui Hart Hemmings' assured touch and her fine grasp of the absurd ensures that this novel steers a deliciously scenic route between heartbreak and hilarity

Daily Mail

An assured and subtle writer. The islands rise lush and untamed in the background


A darkly funny debut...a sharp story of emotional and sexual awakening in idyllic Hawaii


Utterly original and absolutely compelling...a fantastic first novel

Geoff Dyer

An unsentimental tragicomedy, whose somewhat hopeless male protagonist is so believable that it's a surprise to discover his creator is young, female and only on her first novel.'

Dazed and Confused

Hemmings' quirkily assured touch, her grasp of the absurd and the lush Hawaiian setting ensures this novel's balance between heartbreak and hilarity

Marie Claire

Full of dark humour and astute observations, this is a deftly written rumination on the meaning of family and ancestry

Big Issue

A panoramic tragicomedy about the transience of life...a sensitive, unsentimental vision that is often peppered with comic barbs...treads the fragile thread between heartbreak and humour, announcing Kaui Hart Hemmings as a writer of prodigious gifts

Time Out

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    January 1, 2012


    304 pages

    RRP $27.99

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • EBook


    September 1, 2010

    Vintage Digital

    304 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

Also by Kaui Hart Hemmings

The Possibilities


The Handmaid's Tale
To Kill A Mockingbird
Echo Burning
A Gentleman in Moscow
Best Laid Plans
Fool Me Once
The Golden House
The Girl on the Train
The Heart's Invisible Furies
Swing Time
The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Girls
Cold Blood
Fifty Shades Darker
The Trip of a Lifetime
The Light Between Oceans
Ready Player One