Archipelago follows the journey between Gavin, his young daughter Ocean and their dog Suzy as they travel across the Caribbean to come to the terms with the tragic flood which destroyed their home, killed Gavin's son and left his wife with severe depression.
Gavin is not coping with everyday life, gong to work and caring for Ocean who has bad nightmares and a terrible fear of rain. He suddenly decides to take Ocean and Suzy on a voyage with his old boat Romany and they go on a journey full of surprises, meeting new and different people, seeing new sights and encountering the challenges and beauty of nature.
This book is almost like a travel guide, describing each location in detail as Gavin and Ocean take part in tourist activities and explore their new surroundings. You can tell that the author spent time visiting each place and experienced everything the characters do. There is lots of animal imagery, with Gavin and Ocean encountering iguanas, dolphins, a whale and many other creatures on their journey. As an animal lover, I enjoyed these peaceful descriptions, although there are also some violent and upsetting images which I thought were unnecessary, but obviously used as metaphors for the dangers and tragedies of life.
There are some very odd parts of the book, which I won't go into detail to reveal spoilers, but there are parts of the book I quite liked and others that I didn't. It wouldn't necessarily
encourage me to read the author's other work. I found the last chapter very disappointing and an anti-climax.
For me there were hints of The Descendants - father on a journey with a child while the mother is absent - and also Jamrach's Menagerie with the travel, nature and survival themes. This is a book about coming to terms with pain and heart break and and no matter how far you get away from home and your problems, you will always go back.