Wednesday, September 19, 2012
REVIEW: On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves
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.
About the Author
Anna accepts a job as a tutor for 17-year-old TJ, who battled cancer and is in remission. On the way to the Maldives, their plane goes down somewhere in the ocean and they wash up on a deserted island. As they struggle to survive, they grow together and fall in love.
This book had its moments. Sometimes interesting, sometimes predictable, often contrived, it was at least able to hold my attention. There were some pretty ridiculous aspects. For example, Anna packed enough soap and shampoo to last the summer when flying to Maldives, and yet 2 1/2 years after being stranded on the island, they still had shampoo and soap for bathing.
The writing was a bit simple-- it wasn't descriptive, it wasn't beautifully lyrical. In fact, it reminded me of my own writing when I attempt to write fiction, and I always feel that my writing falls so short. There wasn't much of an attempt to really bring you into the story and make you feel like you were there. It was just "he said this, and she said this, and the wind blew and it was hot, and they were hungry and sad and lonely". It was very straight-forward and simple writing.
And I just didn't get some things. For instance, after they fell in love, Anna kept worrying about what would happen if they got off the island? What would people say? She believed there would be repercussions for "her actions", even thought TJ was an adult. I just didn't get why she was so stressed over this. Their relationship was unorthodox, but it wasn't as if she were a pedophile taking advantage of a 12-year-old. And surely people would understand that they had been stranded on an island together, never knowing whether one or both of them may die.
I think I actually enjoyed the last half of this book, as it seemed more believable, if not the more exciting half. And this was a bit of a disappointment, as it was the first half that I was really looking forward to experiencing.
Considering the author chose to self-publish this novel, you've gotta give her credit. She has had the best success I've seen thus far from a self-published author! Her book has been well received and is showing up on actual bookstore shelves and has become a bestseller. That's impressive!
My final word: This was an "okay" book. I was left with the same feeling I usually have after reading most romance novels. As if it were a bit of fluff and little substance, although the last half of the book is more substantial. Read this one when you are looking for a little fluff.
Barnes and Noble
I received a copy of this book to review Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.