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In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

1 John 4:9

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July 26, 2014

Book Review: On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

Book 1 in the Island Series  

BLURB: 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.

REVIEW: I actually sprang for the audio book version of this one as I found it on sale and couldn’t resist when I found that I had  a little extra money to splurge with several months back. I had been eyeing this one for sometime as I have always loved the stranded on a deserted island scenario. Throw in romance with the stranded people and I’m so there! But I kept putting this one off and the reason I waited for so long was the pretty big age difference between the two main characters. Anna is 30 when the book starts and T.J. is 16 but I was so totally wrong in waiting and thinking it might be a bit icky with that big a difference in the two’s ages. And the fact that she was his summer school teacher…it just brought up a kind of eww not a forbidden love story about a teacher falling for a student. And "if that was my son I would want to snatch the woman bald headed if she so much as touched him" thought. BUT I hasten to say I was COMPLETELY wrong in my hesitancy and my assumptions about this wonderful novel. So please do NOT make my mistake and let that keep you from reading this one. I’m sorry I waited so long because I absolutely LOVED it! It's actually now on my favorite's shelf!

There are very few books that I have picked up and truly could NOT stop reading… (and in this case listening too) but that is exactly what happened to me with this one. It completely grabbed hold of me and I could not put it down until I found out what happened next!!! I had work and housework that was beckoning me and other things I needed to be doing (shamefaced blush here) but I could not pry myself away from this one. I had to literally make myself go do what I needed to do and then I would rush back to see what happened next to Anna and T.J.

Tracey Garvis Graves has penned a story that is so rich in depth, texture, action, and love that it just immerses you and you don’t want to leave the story for a minute!
I won’t go into huge detail because I don't want to spoil anything for anyone and you can get a good idea of what the book is roughly about just from the blurb-but it’s so much more than that! This is thrilling action packed tale of what two people can endure and go through to survive and the close bond that forms between people when they go through such hardship, tragedy, and isolation together.

Anna indeed starts out in the beginning as the "adult and teacher/authority figure role" when they first wash up on the island. But those roles quickly start to blur as they both have to work together to find water, food, make a shelter and survive the harsh elements, storms, the danger of predators, and just the sheer loneliness and boredom that people who are stranded on an island with hardly anything would have to do.

The two literally have only each other and they grow very close through the shared hardships, trials, and long hours alone together that they share. They are not rescued right away but spend years together alone on the island. Both of them wonder if they will ever be found or if this is where they will spend the rest of their lives.

As with any situation like this it causes T.J. to quickly grow up far beyond his years and shoulder responsibilities that mature him very quickly. However in my opinion because of his fight with cancer before he went into remission he was already well above the maturity that most teenagers are at when they are stranded. But he quickly takes over the role of the provider by fishing, gathering food and water, starting the fire, and so much more so that he and Anna can survive. And in doing so he becomes a man much faster than he ever would have in any normal situation.

They spend years together on the island and they are both lonely and have only one another for companionship. But it's easy to see that these two would have been very good friends and gotten along great even if they weren’t stranded together. They just click. After a while T.J. and Anna start to see one another in a different light not just as a student and teacher, not just as two lonely people stuck together, but as a man and a woman that get along well together and genuinely care for one another.

The love that grows between the two is both moving and touching. Nothing untoward happens between them until much later…after they have bonded though mutual trust and care that is built through the long trials they have faced together (and again this all happens over several years so it’s not like they were just bored and decided to make out. It isn’t that way at all.) Their age difference when they do finally get together does still bother Anna. She worries about what others would think if they were to be rescued and how it would affect both T.J and herself. But it does not bother T.J. that much at all. He doesn’t see Anna as his teacher or years older than himself, he sees her as the beautiful woman that he has grown to love and who has helped him survive some of the hardest times of his life.

Will they ever be rescued? Or will they spend forever on the Island? And either way can the love that they have found last?

This one truly does have it all! There are many, many twists and turns and surprises along the way and you won’t be able to tear yourself away!

Again I am so sorry that I waited so long before I read this one. I absolutely loved it and truly hated to see it end. Get this one and enjoy it! Because if you give it half a chance I know you will!

*A note about the narration since I did listen to the audio book for this one. *
The narrator is Heidi Baker and she does a spectacular job. Her narration to me actually added to the story and made it even more realistic and heartfelt, as you can actually hear the emotions of the characters through her voice. She really is a talented performer and I would love to hear more books read by her! She is one of the best narrators I have ever heard. So if you like audio books I HIGHLY recommend her rendition of this one it was fabulous!

There are several sexual scenes in the book but they aren't overly detailed. There is definitely some heat but it's on the spicier side of hot. For those that don't like every stark detail being spelled out it's not here so you should be fine. I have seen more graphic detail depicted on nightly TV story lines than happens here. If it were a movie I would range it in the PG-13 category.
Click Here to buy your copy of On the Island

Please note you can purchase the paperback, e-book,
or audio book at the link provided above.

1 comment:

  1. Great review - I loved this book. It's one of my all-time favorites. :)


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