It tells the story of a group of hired fishermen who were on a boat that was damaged during a storm, and who found themselves drifting.... and drifting... and drifting.
Eventually the boat made it all of the way across the ocean, from Mexico over to near Australia... and three of the men survived.
The book also tells the story of the author, who worked in Hollywood, and was very successful but still found his life falling apart, and his journey of recovery.
Later, it ties the two stories together, and tells of how the author saw the story of the fishermen as a parallel to his life, and explains his quest to make contact with them and tell their story.
It’s a really interesting book, and the stories both draw you in and make you want to keep reading.
But it sort of gets awkward with the two stories mixed together... especially at the start of the book when they really seem to have nothing to do with each other, but the chapters flip back and forth.
I think that the two stories really would have done better told separately... completely tell one, then the other, and then relate them. The author does explain that he only intended to write about the men, but was told by many people that he needed to include his story too... but I don’t think this was the best way to do it. At some points, the flipping back and forth even sort of seems to trivialize the struggles that the author was facing... in comparison to being hopelessly adrift at sea while your crewmates die, just about anything else is going to seem trivial.
It’s still a good read... but keeping the big picture of where he’s trying to go with this in mind at the first part of the book might be helpful.