Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

{February 16, 2012}   {Review} On The Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

From Goodreads: 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.


This is an amazing story.  There are very few novels out there that actually cause me to swoon for days upon end after completion, and even further still that haunt my dreams.  Yet, On the Island has done exactly that, tenfold.  I am in awe of Garvis-Graves, she has literally rocked my world and I can’t get her novel out of my head.  It’s a perfect story; the reader can’t help but become attached to both Anna and T.J. as they embark on this incredible journey spanning eight years of their lives.

I will admit, I was a bit skeptical when my friend, Tammara Webber, told me I just had to read this novel.  Not because I doubted Garvis-Graves writing ability, but because I was nervous about a novel dealing with a 30-year-old woman and a 16-year-old boy marooned on an island.  Yeah, you’re there with me, you know what I’m talking about.  But, ladies and gentlemen, rest assured, it’s nothing like that. Yes, there are sexual situations, but it’s not what you’re thinking, at least, it wasn’t what I was thinking when I originally heard of the story.  Yes, there is romance, but it’s not rushed, remember, this novel takes place over eight years, and throughout all this time, Garvis-Graves draws the reader in, building up both Anna and T.J. into respectable, caring people that you can’t help but root for as they battle the elements to stay alive—to stay sane.

I laughed aloud while I read.  That’s an extreme rarity.  There’s just something about “Operation chase a chicken” that made me giggle, as did many instances on the island as Garvis-Graves creates a superb picture in the readers mind of what life must really be like for Anna and T.J.  I cried too.  A lot.  But, mostly those tears were tears of joy, though sometimes they were not, and I felt like a piece of me was dying alongside the characters as events unfolded.  This is a very powerful novel.

I began reading On the Island at 11:30 at night.  I had every intention of just perusing it until I was ready to sleep.  But, let me tell you, sleep didn’t come that night.  I stayed up until 4:30 in the morning, until I turned the last page, and even after that, I couldn’t have gone to sleep if I had wanted to.  This story is an epic tale combining love, suspense, laughter, and sorrow, and I am still in awe, days later.  I need to read it again.  Right now.  Five stars.

5 stars

And, do you know what?  In 30 minutes I will be posting a giveaway for this novel, which will have both signed paperbacks and ebooks available, making a total of seven winners.  Stay tuned, you don’t want to miss this!

[…] you haven’t yet read On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves, then you’re truly missing out.  It is the most stunning, captivating […]

Roxy says:

Wow, this sounds like a fantastic book – can’t wait until I get a chance to read it!

Amy Quinn says:

I absolutely loved this book. I’m a sucker for survival stories and this one was amazing. I’m not really a “romance” fan but this was more of a love story at heart.

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