Review: On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
Paperback, 319 pages
First published September, 2011
Source: Publisher
When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family’s summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He’s almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn’t bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family – and a stack of overdue assignments – instead of his friends.

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.’s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter. Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

When I first got the review request for this book I was hesitant.  Honestly it looks like chick lit, which isn’t always my thing.  But a good summer read did sound pleasant so I checked out the reviews.  Suddenly I started remembering that I did see reviews for this book and people are raving about it!  So then I couldn’t resist.

Honestly, I knew very little about the book when I started reading.  I suppose I just didn’t remember what I had read about it.  So I wasn’t exactly sure how it would go down.  I mean, I knew they were stranded on an island, but I had no idea it was for this long.  And you know that being stranded on an island would bring all sorts of things.  Thirst, hunger, shelter, cleanliness, sicknesses, wildlife & sea life and so much more.  Each of the challenges they had to overcome was fascinating and with each thing they had to survive I found myself relating to and understanding the characters a little more.  They only had each other and two people together, surviving (barely) alone with nothing and no one else, would most definitely grow close.  And watching how close they came gradually, was pretty awesome.  Don’t worry, there’s no case of an adult falling in love with a child, he was an adult before things ever went anywhere, but that allowed for the tension to build up.  I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it all, honestly.  But I think it was very sweet and realistic.

Another concern I had was would they be on the island through the entire book?  I really wanted to see where things would go once they did get off, or if they even got off.  And I got my satisfying ending, for sure.  I felt like maybe it went on a bit longer than necessary and at times felt my attention waning, but I wasn’t ever bored.  It’s just not some fast paced book.  But it is entertaining, thought provoking and gets your emotions worked up.  I felt bad for them so many times, and other times I felt furious because of what they had to go through (not only on the island) and feeling those emotions made the book even better.  And don’t worry, this had some giggles to go along as there are plenty of funny moments and lots of very sweet ones.  And the beauty, oh I felt like I was ON the island with them!  Seriously, what gorgeous scenery! 

I definitely recommend you give this one a try!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book for review purposes, I was not paid or influenced in any way.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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  1. I’d never heard of this books before, but it actually sounds fantastic! I’ll TBR it! And I think the premise is unique, not in and of itself, but like you said, because they’re there for so long together. That’s kind of different. Thanks for the review! 😀

  2. I have to say at first glance, the cover would definitely make me think chick lit too, and while I don’t mind that genre now and then, I don’t actively seek it out. This book however, sounds awesome, and I love the idea of a gradual romance while in the middle of a survival situation. Also, I enjoy giggling, so I’m glad to know there’s some humor worked in there as well! Fantastic review Candace!

  3. This book is getting tons of buzz and I think it sounds fascintating! Now I want to know do they get off the island and then what happens! I am adding this to my reading list! Thanks for the insight and the gorgeous scenery sounds awesome!

  4. This one just makes me shudder. I’ve heard great things about it and how the romance doesn’t actually happen until the kid is “legal” but *shudder*. I don’t know if I can read it, no matter how good it is.

  5. Ong I figured chick-lit too! My friend has been waiting for her copy and we even talked about how much the reviews rock and I never read up on it was actually about. I love stranded surviving stories. I just read Lost Girls too which I recommend and I’m definitely checking out this!!

  6. I was not interested in this book AT ALL. But I was judging it, big time, by the chick-lit feel. Seems like I was a little on the wrong side. After reading your review and a FULL synopsis I’m actually interested.

    Curious how they’re going to pull off the 14 year age gap thing… but hey.

  7. This does sound interesting. I understand that people could be uncomfortable about the age difference. Hell, it even concerns me. But at the same time, w/o even reading it yet, I get it. I’m seriously thinking about reading this one now.

  8. I first heard of this book through Tina, and her review compelled me to purchase it, but I still haven’t gotten around to reading it. I’m a bit surprised to find how long they are actually strained. Wow! In one way, you could see things developing quickly, but the fact that it’s held off is interesting. Makes me wonder how I’d react.

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