Saturday, October 13, 2012

Review: On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
Published June 7th 2012 by Penguin
Purchase: Amazon
About the book
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.

My Thoughts
Love love loved this book!!

I did not expect to feel this passionate about On the Island going into this read. I was planning to just breeze through a summer-y type book with mild interest. Well, that surely didn’t happen here! On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves was amazing! It’s one of those books that render you useless the entire time you’re lost in the pages. I wanted to give it all of my attention because it definitely captured all of my heart.

In this novel, Anna takes a tutoring job for the summer where she’ll be helping sixteen year old T.J. catch up with his school work after falling behind due to an illness. They’re slated to catch up with his family at a vacation spot and board a charter plane toward Maldives, but an unexpected accident leaves them stranded on one of the twelve hundred small islands in a vast area. Their struggle to survive and obtain food, water and shelter is not the only challenge they face. After what seems like an endless and hopeless wait for a rescue, which spans from months into years, these two people begin to battle the feelings they develop for one another despite the thirteen year age difference.

This was such a powerful story that was told in multiple perspectives between Anna and T.J. I’ve seen many authors struggle in making alternating POVs work for their story, but Tracey executed this narrative style with perfection. I could vividly imagine what Anna and T.J. had to overcome physically, emotionally and psychologically throughout this ordeal. My heart went through a wide range of emotions for these two including hope, despair, happiness and oh so much angst.

Graves did a masterful job of pacing this story and it never felt rushed in any way considering it took into account a multiple year ordeal. I’m always on the fence about epilogues, and I’ve even gone so far as removing a star or two for epilogue misuse. Not in this case. I wanted to add a few stars because Tracey’s ability to catapult us into these characters’ future provided the perfect closure to this journey.

What I love most about this book is that it started off as a self-published novel and worked its way up from there solely based on great storytelling. Hats off to Tracy Garvis Graves for writing such a spectacular book about survival and hope that gained traction by word of mouth and exploded into the success it is today. Beautiful book that I hear is now being optioned for a movie… I’ll be buying a ticket to that show and that’s for sure! Once again… Loved it!
5 Suns

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