Friday, September 7, 2012

Review: On The Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

On The Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
Published: July 17, 2012
Publisher: Plume (Penguin)
Pages: 319
Received: for honest review via Penguin Canada
Buy Now: 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.
Okay this book was absolutely amazing. It struck a chord with me, not for it's bit of romance, but for the fact that it took two people and pushed them into a situation that most couldn't even fathom being stuck in. The entire story was more about human nature, what people can do in dire situations, how they can survive together if they just have trust and someone to depend on. It was overwhelming in the sense that emotions run high, not just romantic inclinations or raging hormones, but raw emotion due to the situation that Anna and T.J. find themselves in.

From the start Garvis Graves has you emotionally invested in this story. You already know from the synopsis that their plane crashes and they are on a deserted island, but what you won't expect is the emotions that will run through you while reading the passage leading up to the crash itself, you can brace yourself, but it will still pull you in. And the way that she writes the initial days on the island for Anna and T.J. will have you begging for them to be saved. 

Anna and T.J. somehow make their situation work. They work hard, put everything into trying to survive and as time goes on they even begin to let their guard down and fall into a new life on the island. I found the relationship changed at a good pace too, not too rushed and not too slow. There is an age gap between the two and I think their storyline was well thought out. Having T.J. becoming a man on the island after having already surviving a major illness was quite wonderful to witness. Since he had already matured in some senses due to having gone through so much already, his leap to protector and coming into his own was perfectly written. 

I loved that Garvis Graves was able to switch back and forth between the two point of views so easily and that I never once got confused with who was narrating. It was a welcome relief to read from both POVs and gain insight into each of their thoughts and emotions. 

I'm going to say that my heart was always with T.J. even if sometimes I was tugged along with what Anna was thinking. It was refreshing to read a male POV and I was drawn to his part of the story a little more than hers for that very reason. The entire story is flawless and sometimes I find it hard to believe that this is Tracey Garvis Graves' first novel. Definitely will be on the watch for more of her work.

If you are looking for a read that won't want to put down, that will draw you in emotionally and leave you wanting more, then this is the book for you. Follow the adventure of a lifetime with Anna and T.J. and you will be forever changed.

Other reviews of On The Island:
-Daisy Chain Book Reviews
-Smexy Books
-Just A Lil' Lost

About the Author:
Tracey Garvis Graves lives in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband and two children. On the Island is her first novel. Also, check out the Dear Reader letter Tracey posted here.


  1. I heartily agree with this review. When I tried to put my fascination with this book into a single paragraph for my daughter she frowned and didn't look convinced, but then she read it. I loved the two first person POV approach and yes, it did make T.J. very real for me and very much a person I could care for and about. He is my new standard for heroes. If you read only one book this year, make ON THE ISLAND that book.

    1. Thank you for stopping by. Your comment just made my day! This was probably one of the best books I've read this year and I know that I will be keeping this on my shelf to read again and again. :)

  2. Great review! I have heard nothing but positive reviews for this book and I'm looking forward to reading it soon (I should be getting it in the mail soon).

    1. Thank you! It was a fabulous read and I hope you get your copy soon so that you can see for yourself. :)

  3. On the Island is easily one of my favorite books of all-time. Actually, I'd have to say that when I read this last summer, it got me back into reading. I still have to read Uncharted, but am heading over to check out your review of that next. :)

    1. It is my favourite book of all time. I don't think I've read anything that has topped it. Sadly, I have no idea where my copy is. I thought I loaned it to a friend, but they do not have it. *sigh* I must buy another copy soon. And yes. you should read Unchartered, it's a really good companion novella.


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