I have just finished a sad book with a happy ending and cry at the wonder that humanity can not only survive tragedy, but come out the other side as if re-birthed and new again.
Archipelago, by Monique Roffey tells the tale of a father and daughter struggling to survive loss and tragedy. Leaving their home, a constant reminder of the flood and loss of baby Alex, they embark on a sea journey. Not what one might expect when life as they knew it has been forever changed by water. Yet it is the water that helps them to heal in the end. The sea and time.
The title acts as a metaphor for the rifts that rise out of the sea as father and daughter travel aboard Romany. Like the many islands they encounter along the way, there are many breaks that challenge the two in their relationship and their lives.
Ocean, named for her father’s love of the sea learns through repeated lessons, what it means to lose what you cherish most. More importantly, father and daughter both learn what it means to survive and carry on. As they make their way through Caribbean waters, toward the Panama Canal and the Galapagos Islands, Ocean’s wails of grief become lost in the natural world, but somehow seem to draw that world closer to them, with lessons that remind them that life is about giving and taking away.
As they connect with the natural world the pair come to understand what is at the heart of nature, and what is at the heart of their grief. This understanding is what heals them both.
Roffey’s writing gets right down to the intricacies of how human beings handle grief. She is spot on showing us, through Gavin’s thoughts and actions and the way Ocean grapples to understand the deepest hurt when she has no words to express it.
For anyone who has wrestled with their own feelings of loss, the book will remind you that we are all part of the natural world and it is the search for meaning that keeps us going.