Sunday, March 24, 2013

Review: On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

Title: On the Island
Author: Tracey Garvis-Graves
Pages: 368 pages
Format acquired: Paperback
Publisher: Penguin
Published on: August 16th' 2012
Source: Purchased from Fully Booked
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble
Add on Goodreads:

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.

(Image and summary taken from Goodreads)


A lot of people have been telling me how great this book is and when I say people, I mean my mom and when she says great she means, read-this-book-now-or-I'll-disown-you great. And if I've learned something from the years since she's been my mother, it's that to never doubt her judgement. And yeah, I totally was not disappointed.

T.J. and Anna's love story isn't your average boy-meets-girl plot. No sir, it's not. It's more of rich-recovering-from-cancer-boy-meets-tutor-boy-and-tutor-ride-on-an-airplane-pilot-gets-a-heart-attack-and-plane-crashes-boy-and-tutor-gets-stuck-on-an-island-for-years-and-love-blossoms-during-those-years-and-other-things-happen kind of story. I didn't really know what I expected to happen between the two of them but once something did start happening I found myself just nodding along. It was like I wasn't prepared for their relationship but I wasn't shocked that it happened (note: there is around a 13-year difference between their ages. But I'm cool with it.) I was rooting for their relationship because in the end, they had no one else but each other... and the dolphins... and the sharks... and Chicken... and Bones. That's actually a lot of people... But the point is, they're the only human beings there. Ha! Even though I was totally shipping the two of them, I wondered what would happen once they got back to civilization. How would society react towards their love? Negatively or in a positive light? I'll talk about this more later.

I honestly would not know what to do if I were to get stuck in an island for an idefinite amount of time. I'd probably cry and wait my death out or something. You have got to admit that you've been asked the "If you were to get stuck in an island..." question a lot and have come up with pretty cool answers but when you get faced with the real life situation with none of the things you wished for, you'd panic like crazy too. And I totally wouldn't blame you. And I also didn't blame Anna when for a few days all she did was sit on the beach and pray for a plane to fly by because there's really nothing wrong with hope. It's what fuels us in the end, and it's what helps us survive; to strive for something other than what we have now. I was amazed when she finally ditched her pity party and decided to actually go and do something because waiting for yourself to starve to death is never a good thing. You might imagine that they had a pretty good life on the island since it is a fictional novel where anything can happen but no. NO. They didn't have a pleasant life at the beginning. It was struggle and I felt so bad for them. T.J. and Anna were not only starving but also dehydrated and started contracting diseases from the water they drank (not salt water but murky, lake water. *shocked face*) I honestly wondered what would happen next since it seemed like such a lost cause for them but that was when their resourcefulness, survive skills and Anna's suitcase came in.

I was pretty shocked when T.J. was the one who took the lead when it came to the Survivor (<-- pun, pun) things. You know, since he's only 17-years-old and a recovering cancer patient but when he did take charge, I was like: Applause for you, man. It was then when I saw what a confident young man he really was and that he just needed a situation wherein he would be given the opportunity to show that. I felt that that the only time where he was actually taken seriously and adult-like instead of the teenager his parents treated him as. Anna respected and looked up to T.J. and that I was something I commend her for. I think it was also mostly the fact that she also needed someone to lead her and when T.J. stepped up his game, she was relieved that someone decided to be what she needed.

Surviving in that island the way they did for years, it boosted my respect for them. I can't stand not bathing for a day, much less two. Their struggle wasn't just food/health related, it was also hygiene related. So yeah, that was pretty sad. And there was also the thing with the shark... and Bones. I think that we can all just agree on the fact that they went through a lot of things. Things that normal human beings probably wouldn't be able to survive but they did, thanks to desperate times. I think adrenaline played a key part to most of their success.

Although some people may find their relationship about weird since they have a 13-year gap between them but as you read on, you'll realize how much they truly care for each other. I loved them together and I was happy that they stayed together right to the end. T.J. and Anna depended on each other but they also let each other have their space. Especially Anna to T.J., she really wanted him to experience the whole college-kid life since they've been gone for so long and she didn't want him to regret staying with her. In the end, Anna saw how much T.J. truly loved her. And I couldn't help but wish for my own T.J.... Anna, you lucky woman.

On the Island is one of the sweetest most beautiful books I have ever read. I adored every single moment of it and I am just dying to get my hands on its companion novel. I recommend this book to those hopeless romantics out there because this book just exudes romance and lots of suspense, actually. Miss Gravis-Graves has made a novel that is not only unique but so memorable that it will forever be etched into my heart. I fell in love not only with her writing but also with her characters and pretty much everything in this book. I hope that those of you who do decide to read it will love it as much as I did. In the end, age IS just a number.



  1. oh my gosh...I have no words to say. after reading the summary I was like shit! A30 yr old woman and a 17 yr old boy who hasn't even faced the whole evolution for puberty?!?! LOL well...I am not a fan for cougars so yeah hahahahaha but great review! I'm glad you enjoyed it :D

    1. Thank you, Chyna! It was pretty odd reading about books with big age gaps but Tracey Garvis-Graves was really able to make it comfortable and not at all weird. You should definitely try On the Island before you make any judgements because it IS a really good book. ;) Thanks for reading!

  2. I love books about people stucked on an island, and I enjoy love stories, so this book sounds perfect for me. Nice review.

    1. Thanks, Dani! If you love books like that then On the Island IS perfect for you! :D

  3. This sounds amazing. I also love the cover.

    1. I love the cover too! :D And this book IS amazing!!