Review: On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

Is age really just a number? Does true love transcend all things? Even through extreme, desperate situations? Even through a large age gap? Does wanting different things or being in a different spot matter when love is involved?

Thirty year old Anna is an English teach. She needs time to think about her life. She has been with her boyfriend of eight years and they still aren’t married. She feels like she is just waiting and waiting for a life that isn’t going t happen. So when the opportunity to get away comes….she takes it.

TJ is a sixteen and recovering from cancer. His parents want to take a celebratory vacation in the Maldives where he can both recover and study. TJ’s parents hired Anna as his tutor for the summer.

Anna and TJ board a seaplane bound for a remote island in the Maldives when suddenly their pilot has a heart attack and dies. The plane goes down somewhere in the ocean. When they wash ashore on a deserted island, they think it’s only a matter of time before a search party discovers them.

Three and a half years go by.

They must learn to survive on the island and deal with numerous obstacles….sharks, disease, broken bones, food, building shelter, building a fire….everything.

As times passes, their relationship changes as well. But is it love or a bond formed from a desperate situation? As time goes on, TJ and Anna can barely being to phantom what the future will hold, let alone their hearts, if they are never rescued…..and that is a frighten reality. They need to face the facts, a rescue may never come.

I’ll be honest…..I was super skeptical about this book. The main reason was the taboo relationship angle, Anna was thirty and TJ sixteen (almost seventeen), then to add another layer of taboo, she was his teacher! Honestly I was put off but at the same time curious how this was going to play out.

I like a challenge, so I was willing to give it a shot. I am thrilled that I did! I love being surprised and won over!

I hardly noticed TJ’s youth. I didn’t think of him as a boy or immature…..young yes, but never juvenile. On the flip side, I never thought of Anna as old or too mature for him. I thought she wanted different things than he did and she was in a different spot in her life but never too old for him.

From the beginning, the teacher/student relationship was down played which helped remove the stigma. I think it helped that TJ didn’t call her Mrs. Emmerson….always Anna. This removed the formality and made them more casual acquaintances.

TJ was charming and sexy. I loved reading from his perspective. So often readers only get one side of the romance story, usually the female perspective….I liked reading what was going through TJ’s head and how he felt about her. I felt his earnest passion and desire to be with her and how he fell in love with her.

Anna seemed a little bland about TJ. She seemed to struggle with her feelings a lot, but eventually I was able to justify her feelings and understood her hesitation about entering into a romance with TJ.

Besides the romance part, I was completely enthralled in the survivor story! What I liked best about the plot was that it was completely believable! It read like something out of the headlines! I never once felt like the story was unbelievable or  overly dramatic. It wasn’t dripping in cliché romanticism or fantasy. It was realistic, modern, gritty, and funny at times.

Normally I am not a fan of  survivalist/castaway literature (Swiss Family Robinson, Robinson Crusoe etc) or TV shows like Survivor (though I do like the show Man, Woman, Wild) but this book completely captivated me!

The idea of being on a deserted island paradise doesn’t sound so bad, because obviously you think someone will surly find you, especially in this modern era….but when you realize that you might indeed be stranded there indefinitely….it rapidly loses its appeal to say the least.

The setting was perfect. The Maldives islands are a perfect location. Indonesia is still a relatively ‘undiscovered’ part of the world and there are thousands of little atolls where someone could get marooned. The location was exotic and thrilling….perfect for a story like this. I thought it added a lot to the plot and romanticism.

I was taken in from the first page and thought the story moved quickly. It was exciting and kept me guessing. This is a great summer/beach read, but it isn’t just that….it’s an interesting love story full of obstacles and challenges. It’s a great escapism novel and a fast read but one that you could enjoy over and over again. This was not what I expected but in a good way….it was so much more! I liked it more than I thought I would!

Grab your favorite coconut infused drink and escape to the exotic beaches of paradise where love and survival culminate into one unforgettable tale of adventure. Find out if love truly does conquer all.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

  • Kindle Edition, 329 pages
  • Published June 7th 2012 by Plume(first published September 3rd 2011)

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5 (a mesmerizing beach themed read)

Genre: Romance, contempo lit, chick lit

Memorable lines/quotes: 

I waited for her to swallow and then I lost my shit completely. I grabbed her face with both hands and kissed her, hard. (152)

She looked classy. Beautiful. Like a woman who had her shit together. (270)

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