438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea - Jonathan Franklin

I received an advance copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I not only appreciate the incredible story told, a story that has much to tell anyone who has ever felt themselves facing seemingly insurmountable odds (which is pretty much everyone), but also the tremendous research which creates the basis for the tale, and the heartfelt sympathy and respect that Mr. Franklin gave to Salvador Alvarenga, our protagonist. This story is a feast for the mind as well as the heart.

I would place Mr. Franklin’s book on the same shelf as such classics as Alive and Into Thin Air. I found it particularly interesting to have read this book right after finishing The Martian. While I loved The Martian, it paled in comparison (mainly because it was fiction) to the real story. It is an apt analogy on some levels, yet Alvarenga’s suffering was much more profound than that of the fictional astronaut and his isolation was no less extreme.

Franklin’s deep research provides tremendous insight into the incredible journey: into the true immensity and isolation of the Pacific Ocean, the daily requirements and suffering of being a castaway for more than a year, as well as the physical and even more illuminating, at least to me, the psychological toll that it took on Alvarenga, a man who probably was the one in a million who could have survived this ordeal.

Another unexpected and appreciated surprise for me was that Franklin did not end the story with the rescue, as most authors do. He stayed with Alvarenga as he attempted to readjust to society, both physically and mentally. This is the “rest of the story” that we are usually not given. I also appreciated Mr. Franklin’s deep sympathy and respect for Mr. Alvarenga, which gave the story an emotional impact that is often missing in nonfiction. I can’t imagine a novel exploring the emotional and physical suffering of its hero any deeper than this fine book.

5 stars. Highest recommendation.


Jonathan Franklin was nice enough to give me a blurb on his page. http://jonathanfranklin.com/