Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Book Review: On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves


Pages: 368
Genre: Adult - Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: August 16, 2012
Source: Library
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."
Anna is a thirty year old high school English teacher and is feeling pretty stagnant at this point in her life. Her boyfriend is stalling and hasn't popped the question yet despite the fact that they have dated for years. Things aren't feeling entirely good with him at this point, so she takes a job for the summer tutoring a sixteen year old boy who has missed school due to cancer.  Thankfully, he has recovered and to celebrate, his parents rented a house in the Maldives.  Anna knows this summer will be incredible and perhaps her boyfriend will get the hint while she is gone.  T.J., the student that Anna is tutoring, decided to travel a few days after his family since he wanted to attend an end of school party.  Anna and T.J. are meeting his family down there and while en-route, the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack.  Anna and T.J. are plummeted into the ocean and thankfully they are wearing their life jackets, but Anna sustains a serious injury.  T.J. keeps them afloat and they drift upon an uninhabited island.  While on the island, they must learn to survive all while holding out hope that they will be found.  As more and more time goes by, Anna realizes that T.J. is becoming a man before her eyes, which could pose a slight problem.  On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves is an addicting romance and a whirlwind of an adventure. It's the perfect combination for a tantalizing beach read.

Anna is a character that I could easily sympathize with.  I know many people shuddered at the thought of a teacher and a student having some sort of connection; however, Garvis-Graves conquers this type of forbidden love very well and in a way that isn't inappropriate.  For starters, they are on the island for a long time and T.J. is no longer a gangly sixteen year old with braces, but a man.  That's all I will say, because I don't want to give anything away. Please know that since I'm a teacher, I was worried this aspect of the novel would irritate me, but like I said, I think Garvis-Graves handled it very well.  T.J. is a character that I grew to really love.  His bond with Anna is incredible and I could really feel their connection radiating off the pages in On the Island. I mean who wouldn't have a connection with the person they were stranded on an island with? 

Let's talk about the action in On the Island.  Oh, man. This is no Ritz Carlton; they are in total survival mode the whole time.  They need to find shelter, clothing, water, food, fire, etc. It had me on the edge of my seat and once things settled down a bit, it seemed something else came up.  There were storms, sickness, mosquitoes, sharks, jellyfish, bats, the possibility that T.J.'s cancer could come back, etc. And did I mention sharks? It had me flipping the pages frantically hoping these two would be saved. 

Also, Garvis-Graves did a wonderful job depicting an unspoiled paradise with dolphins and endless sunny days.  It felt real and this beautiful setting was juxtaposed by all the crazy things that Anna and T.J. had to deal with.

What I find to be most interesting is the fact that Garvis-Graves originally self-published On the Island and now it's a New York Times bestseller that MGM optioned the movie rights for. One thing is for sure, it will make an incredible movie!  

I highly recommend On the Island if you are looking for something captivating and romantic to read this summer. It goes great with a long, lazy day at the beach and an ice-cold cocktail. It will have you dreaming of your own private island, but one without sharks and a bathroom, of course!

9 comments:

  1. I'm so excited to read this Christina! I've read a ton of glowing reviews for it, and I'm so glad to know you really loved it as well, and that the teacher/student aspect is handled really well. She's going to be at BEA this year with her next book and I am absolutely going to be in that line. I can't wait to give her books a try! Wonderful review:)

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    1. You are so lucky you are going to BEA! I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this book. I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for visiting, Jenny!

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  2. Everyone seems to be loving this story! The writing sounds fantastic, and it sounds like the concept was approached in the right way.

    Fabulous review! :)

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    1. I didn't think I would like it due to the teacher/student issue, but it was REALLY good. I hope you get to read it soon. Thanks for dropping by, Lea!

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  3. Yay! You liked it!

    Did you hear book two (Uncharted) is due out in July?

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    1. I did! I will definitely have to check it out! Thanks for visiting, Juju!

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  4. I was initially worried about the age thing too but thought the author did a wonderful job with the slow build and waiting with the growth of the characters. This book was like a drug that I just couldn't get enough of. So happy to hear you enjoyed it too! :)

    ~Sara @ Forever 17 Books

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    1. You are so right...the slow build is what made it work. I was completely addicted too. I'm glad you liked it as well. Thanks for visiting, Sara!

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  5. This was one of my favourite summer reads last year. I'm so glad you enjoyed it too. I thought the author dealt with a sensitive topic really well. Can't wait to read more from her!

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