On the Island
by Tracey Garvis Graves
Publication date: July 17, 2012
Genre: Adult Romance/Chick-Lit
Purchase*: Barnes and Noble/Amazon/Book Depository
Two people stranded on an island struggle to survive—and
slowly fall in love—in the runaway New York Times bestseller, now available
with a reading group guide and a letter from the author
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 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 last year.
Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahan’s
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, 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.
I was approached by the publisher to review On the Island
did not really know much about it, but the synopsis intrigued me. I can definitely understand why this made the
New York Times bestseller’s list. Tracey Garvis-Graves delivers a powerful,
taboo romance that will have you rethinking age old opinions. I was completely
captivated from page one and consumed this in a single evening.
Anna Emerson is at a crossroads in her life. She wants
children and marriage, but the man she has been in a relationship with for
eight years doesn’t want to commit. At
thirty-one her biological clock is screaming and she decides to accept a summer
job tutoring T.J. a sixteen year old boy who’s recently recovered from Hodgkin’s
Lymphoma. She will be spending the summer on a tropical island with them far
from her life at home. She plans to use the time to reflect and make decisions regarding
the relationship. T.J and Anna travel from Chicago to the islands. On the final
leg of their trip, they fly in a private charter over the Maldives islands.
It is here that the unthinkable happens. The plan crashes and they find themselves
on a desert island. The tale that unfolds is fascinating, beautiful, sad,
scary, and wonderfully touching.
The characters were fully developed and I had a strong sense
of who they were. I connected with Anna
and really liked her. T.J. was sweet and brave. He seemed to accept the way
things were, and rather than dwelling on how bad their situation was he worked to improve them. The tale is told in alternating POV’s and this really helped
me connect with them. The romance that
develops is sweet. What? Wait aren’t they sixteen and thirty..eww! That was my first thought too, but this is not
insta-love and it took years to develop and it felt so genuine, believable
and right. For those who are still
freaking out, I will tell you nothing happen until T.J. was nineteen. They are normal, functional people who
found strength, friendship and compassion from each other. It was beautiful and I loved their story.
The world building and Graves writing style were smashing. I
became completely swept up in the first few pages, and didn’t surface until the
last page. Questions raced through my mind as I read; Would they be saved? Would their love survive if they left the island? It’s the kind of tale that is so surreal
and makes you think about their circumstances. Could I survive on a desert
island, let alone a day without soap? Could I even make a fire? The tale itself
spans several years and I was intrigued by island life and how they
survived. Some scenes I found awkward,
maybe because they were awkward for the characters. Overall, they added to the
believability. It’s wonderful when an
author makes you fully invested in two characters and their romance.
I highly recommend On an Island
to fans of contemporary romances, survival
tales and chick-lit. I will definitely be reading more of Graves work. Her next
will be released in the summer of 2013 and will deal with adultery. Adultery in novels is a real turn off for me so I am anxious to see if she can take me out of my comfort zone again.
I want to thank Plume/Penguin for sending me this finished
copy in exchange for my unbiased review. *Purchases made through the buy links
on this site earn a small commission and help fund giveaways.
I gave this novel 4.5 coffee cups out of 5.
Labels: adult-fiction, chick-lit, contemporary romance, Tracey Garvis-Graves