Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings






A story that provoked mixed feelings in me...
Told in a deceptively calm and dispassionate voice, The Descendants ends up portraying a tsunami of emotions.
I approached it curiously, but without great expectations.
Honestly I tend to ignore books that come labeled as "Best Books of  this and that". This one, however, due to a certain number of combinations (low price, plus George Clooney on the cover) ended up being bought a couple of days ago.

The Descendants tells the story of a family: the Kings. Told through Matthew King's voice, we are given glimpses of this family's _at times _ dysfunctional life. 
You know the metaphor, a tiger doesn't change his stripes?
Well, that is my biggest problem with this tale...

This story tries to give a life lesson: People may not be perfect, but still they can make us happy. They're family, and they're going to be missed...

The thing is, from a personal interpretation, and up until a point, I dislike stories such as this. The writing style may even have conquered me... insidiously. Because who'd expected something as bland, and apparently as boring as this, would became interesting?

The characters that started so cardboard-like may even have acquired great levels of depth, BUT, I can't help seeing such deep transformation's as... unbelievable and fantastical.

A parent who neglects his daughters, who up until a few weeks ago considered his children as his wife's task, doesn't change overnight.
Here we have two kids, one teenager, and a ten year old, who were deeply affected by both their parents' neglect and, let's face it, bad parenting.

And I can't help feeling that the father comes out of this mostly unscathed as the good guy, because the wife is dying (poor guy), and because... of another situation that I'm not going to mention...

Even so, _even knowing that I was being manipulated _ I couldn't help my growing interest in Matthew's life. Bonus points to the author for that.

Here is a character who could be the very definition of "meh" and all of a sudden he would say something completely and incisively accurate, and I would be: Ah, well, you're not such an idiot after all...

However, most of this story's success is due to another character:
A teenager called Sid.
Sid who starts as the pain in the ...derriére in this period of Matthew's life, _ he's a friend of Alex, the elder daughter_ ends up having a fulcral point in this family's recovery.
Also he helped with an at times very needed lightness in the story. 

Besides all that I've already said, I don't know if i'll ever re-read it again.
Of course, that can also be explained by the fact, that I don't think I'll be forgetting it so soon.


Oh, and as a sidenote....I must say that i read the translated edition of this story.
I read it in portuguese.
Lately i almost don't read anything in my language mostly  because i end up furious with the translators. But sometimes it  does happen.

In this one, i won't say this book left me furious...more like baffled, because, for the life of me, I cannot understand how something like this can appear!!

The original sentence:

"I remember when he used to live next to us; he stole our tractor in the middle of the night and rode it to the H3 lookout to meet his friends."

Translated:

Lembro-me de quando ele vivia ao pé de nós; roubou-nos o trator a meio da noite e foi nele até ao miradouro da hipoglicémia para se encontrar com os amigos.

For those of you, you do not understand Portuguese, let's say that H3 lookout was translated to hypoglycemia lookout.

  



Buy "The Descendants"

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