Friday, December 2, 2011

Review: On The Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

“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.”
(Smashwords description)

 On the Island

I lost a lot of sleep this week over this book!  You might think that a story which largely takes place on a deserted island would get boring, but let me assure you, there is plenty of action, humor and romance to keep the pace moving.  So much more than a simple survivor story, On The Island takes two highly developed characters--both at turning points in their lives--and forces them to into an endurance situation which will alter them both forever.  Along the way, they have to confront issues such as life & death, what they want out of life, whether they will even have a future beyond the island and the effect their thirteen year age gap might have on their feelings for each other. 

Both characters were incredibly realistic.  T.J. is only a teenager when the book begins, but he’d already faced death once while fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma, so you knew he had strength in him beyond his sixteen years.  The way the author gradually matured him over the course of several years felt so natural.  At first, T.J. would take foolish risks in his efforts to provide for Anna, like climbing up too high in a tree to reach the fruit she liked and falling, leaving him with a broken collar bone.  (Not cool on an island with no medical care.)  But as the story moved on, he became more practical and capable, more mature than a typical young man his age, but not so much that he didn’t retain a bit of his boyish playfulness. 

Anna also evolved, although not in the same way.  When the story begins, she is thirty-years-old, stuck in a long-term relationship which is going nowhere and her biological clock is putting pressure on her to start a family.  She takes the summer job in the Maldives as a way to step back and reassess the direction of her life.  Getting stranded on an island for a few years might seem to make this worse, but actually, it ends up giving her a new perspective on life. 

Overall, I give On The Island...

Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character development - 5 bookmarks
Love story - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Lucas Till (T.J.), Anne Hathaway (Anna)


  1. Thank you Jesi, for "getting" Anna and T.J. I really love this review and want you to know how much I appreciate you reading On the Island. Thank you!


  2. Great Review! I too, loved this book! The story and the characters stayed with me for quite awhile after that last page!

  3. Seems like a great book and you wrote a nice review. I shared this on Twitter, and here would you be interested in posting more in our Literature section?

  4. I got to know Tracey after a friend kindle-loaned me On the Island and then I did something I've never done -- I wrote Tracey an email and FANGIRRRRLED all over the place. I also bought a copy of the book for myself, knowing I would reread it multiple times. I simply adored this book. It was one of if not THE sweetest romance novels I've ever read, as well as a great adventure story. It's in my top 3 books for 2011.

  5. I was very reluctant to read this story, didnt know if i was going to like the premise of the old trapped on a deserted island relationship, especially with the age difference between the characters. I am soooo very glad took the chance though because this story was so much more. I never once thought about the age difference, just the characters.I believed this to happened due to the great amount of detail that went into this book. I found myself feeling as though i was right there with T.J. and anna and felt every triumph defeat and love that they went through during their ordeal on the island. I really loved that it was not all romanticized and perfect especially during the 2nd half of the story.