On The Island – 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.
I read this book from the beginning with such vigor that my phone came everywhere with me; to the toilet, the opticians, everywhere.  I found myself trying to work out how I could read whilst I drove.  Which there isn’t a way not to mention illegal, short of employing a chauffeur which is impossible!  Early on when the rain extinguishes the first fire I shouted “Noooooo!” quite loudly which was just the very moment where the optician asked me if I’d like to come through to the examination room!
I love how it’s written from Anna’s and T.J’s perspective.  Also how the author has written each characters perspective.  In T.J’s chapters the language used is expected from a teenage boy.  Swapping back and forth gives the book pace which I found hard to put down.  I cringed, running my tongue over my teeth when T.J picks his braces off!
This book is so inspirational and also a bit daunting – I wish I could write half as good a book as this.  A first in what seems like a long while I finished this book feeling satisfied: that doesn’t happen often when I read a book I love so much.  The ending for me was perfect and I won’t tell you why or what I love most about the book as it’ll spoilt it for you – but I’ll just say I loved how it ends.
This book is definitely my July book of the month, I’m also rating it as a Must Read.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Skyewriter
    Jul 04, 2012 @ 14:42:49

    Not only a “must read” but On The Island is the kind of book you will pull down and read again, and again. Characters you can really fall in love with and cheer for – or, cringe as you say, when TJ picks his braces off. I, too, loved the back and forth first person POV which brought the reader right into the story to stay. Great book.


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