Monday, June 18, 2012

On The Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

On the Island
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Publication: June 7, 2012
By: Penguin

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 a 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.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Penguin for this book. This was an engrossing, epic story that left me feeling a range of emotions. I laughed, I cried and I was uncomfortable at times. I enjoyed the alternating POV's but I did find Anna's to be somewhat stilted in the beginning and again towards the end. T.J.'s point of view was my favorite and his transition from a boy into young manhood was both humorous and heart breaking.

This story definitely tests the, "If you were the only two people stranded on a deserted island..." theory and is not without it's challenges.  I don't see how you could endure what Anna and T.J. do and not fall in love but if I'm honest, their age difference did bother me.  (I'm not sure if it's because I'm the Mom of two boys or what, but it did.)  Their time on the island does seem to blur the years between them but the issues raised at the press conference brings it right back into focus. I definitely think T.J.'s experience with cancer made him wise beyond his years but as was apparent through much of the story, a big age gap does impact a relationship depending on what stage of life you're in. 

I found it interesting how the author used what was such a horrible tragedy for most of world as the catalyst for something positive for Anna and T.J.'s lives.  The reactions from their relatives seemed realistic and understandable and I was happy with the way this book ended.

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