by Tracey Garvis-Graves
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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.
*Buddy Read with my fabulous friend, Chelsea*
On the Island was an enthralling story that always kept me guessing what was going to happen next. It was easy to become stranded on the island with TJ and Anna, and I found myself finishing the book faster than I wanted to. But throughout the story, I kept wishing that the writing was a little different. It felt flat at times and always left me desiring more. I was nervous that it would affect my attachment to TJ and Anna, but luckily it didn’t. But then again, I wasn’t able to fall head over heels in love with the story. Nonetheless, On the Island was a fast-paced story that kept me entertained and had me swooning over TJ.
“You make me feel safe,” I whispered.
“You are safe.”
I gave in to the pull of sleep and the escape it offered, but seconds before I drifted off completely, I could have sworn T.J.’s lips brushed mine in the sweetest and softest of kisses.
Anna was hired to spend the summer tutoring TJ, to get him caught up in his school work, since he had just beaten cancer. But both of their summers took a turn that no one saw coming. While on their way to TJs family’s vacation spot, their pilot had a heart attack and they crashlanded in shark infested waters. They found themselves on a deserted island, in the Maldives, with challenges at every turn.
“We live here now.”
While Anna was 30 and TJ was almost 17, romance and love was the furthest thing from their minds. Not only did Anna view TJ as a 16 year old kid, but their most pressing matters were food, water and shelter. And so many of those didn’t come easily to them. They were met by so many obstacles in their new lives, and the reprieves they did receive never felt long enough. But as their time on the island continued, they forged a deep friendship that was based on trust and respect. They relied solely on each other for survival and companionship, and that created a beautiful friendship.
If we were in Chicago, I wouldn’t stand a chance with her. But I was starting to wonder if, here on the island, I might.
While I liked Anna for her pragmatic approach to life, my favorite was TJ by far! He was the sweetest person in the world. And as time passed, we got to watch him grow into a man. A man who became impossible for Anna to ignore. A man whose bold actions and swoon worthy gestures made us both smile. His need to take care of Anna made me easily fall for him, and I couldn’t help but root that Anna was able to see the man that was right in front of her.
I didn’t know if I could make it without her. The sound of her voice, her smile, her—those were the things that made living on the island bearable. I held her a little tighter and thought if she woke up I might tell her that. She didn’t though. She sighed in her sleep, and eventually I drifted off.
On the Island was such a fun book. I’m a little sad that I wasn’t completely blown away, but as I said before I struggled at times with the writing. I craved so much more, and at times their voices did sound a little similar. But I did enjoy the characters she created and how the story progressed. So I will try one of her most recent books in hopes that the writing has changed a tad and has become more enticing. Fingers crossed!