Monday, March 11, 2013

On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher desperately in need of adventure. Worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that’s going nowhere, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer on a tropical island tutoring the sixteen-year-old T.J.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to go anywhere. His cancer is in remission and he wants to get back to his normal life. But his parents are insisting he spend the summer in the Maldives catching up on all the school he missed that year.

Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahans’ summer home, and as they fly over the Maldives’ twelve hundred islands, the unthinkable happens. Their plane crashes in shark-infested waters. They make it to shore but soon discover that they’re stranded on an uninhabited island.

At first their only thought is survival. But as the days turn to weeks, and then months, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

I was wandering through Barnes and Noble one day searching for some new paperbacks to add to my bookshelf, and I came across On the Island; it was on sale and I’d heard good things about it, so I thought “yeah, why not” – I added it to my stack of books and headed for the checkout counter. I got home, put it on my bookshelf (along with the other books I lugged home) and that’s where it stayed, unread, for months. Yep, months. I was worried the age difference would be weird for me, that I wouldn’t be able to take it seriously, that there would be an ick-factor to the romance.

Holy smacks, I could not have been more wrong!

On the Island is the story of Anna & T.J., who find themselves stranded on an island after their pilot has a heart attack and crashes their plane in the ocean, somewhere amongst the thousands of islands in the Maldives. The longer they are on the island, the more they begin to lose hope of ever being found, and the more they begin to rely on each other not just for survival, but for companionship – for years, the only human contact they have is with each other. While they work together to keep each other alive, Anna tries to fight off her growing feelings for T.J.; but just how long can she really hold out knowing they may never get off this island…

The relationship between Anna and T.J. was perfectly written, in my opinion. While I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get past their age difference, or that it wouldn’t be believable, or that it would seem inappropriate – I’m so happy to say that I felt none of those things. My mind eased exponentially when I realized nothing sexual would happen between them until he was legal, and the gradual attraction seemed natural; I mean, if you’re stuck on an island for years with someone, it makes sense that you would start to develop an intimate relationship.

This book was pretty much flawless, and Tracey’s writing will captivate you from the very first page. One of the major pluses for me? It didn’t drag. At all. Tracey could have very easily extended this book given that years go by while they’re on the island, but she didn’t – she didn’t include unnecessary plotlines that would have bogged down the story to the point where I would have been thinking, “Really though…when are they getting off this damn island?!” That thought didn’t cross my mind once, because there weren’t any plotlines that caused the story to flat line; every victory, every obstacle, every detail was perfect and necessary and kept me enthralled with T.J. and Anna page after page.

You know a book is a quality read when the author can invoke the emotions of the characters into the reader; Tracey did that with On the Island. One instance in particular involving their first fire immediately followed by rain made my heart sink. I felt for these characters, and I was rooting for T.J. and Anna’s relationship like it was my freaking job. This book just absolutely blew me away, and God forbid I ever find myself stranded on an island, I can only pray that I have a T.J. with me. 

1 comment:

  1. Even when I love a book, it takes something really special to earn 5 stars from me. 5 Stars is just a sacred rating...not to be given lightly. "On The Island" easily got 5 stars from me.