Review: On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

On the Island

On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

Published: September 2011



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 cannot believe it took me so long to read this totally captivating book but unfortunately the subject matter did put me off a little. It wasn’t at all like I was expecting it to be and I was so surprised by how much I actually enjoyed it even though it is the kind of romance than would normally turn me away.

The story switches between Anna and T.J.’s views the entire time. Usually that bothers me but the author’s writing style really made it easy to read and keep track of who was POV you were reading. The story moved along at a good pace and was very easy to get into and read.

I will admit that the romance between T.J. and Anna made me a bit uncomfortable at times. As a mom myself to 5 boys, this is not the kind of relationship I would want for any of them. I understand and appreciate that nothing happened until he was legally old enough but at the same time that is a huge age difference. Yet with these two characters and the situation they find themselves in, everything seems to really work.

I think this is one of the most interesting and different romance story I have read in a very long time. I felt so many different emotions and it really took me out of my comfort zone. I look forward to reading more by this very talented author.


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