On The Island

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Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
ISBN: 978-1-4059-1021-7
RRP: $19.99

On The Island has a thought-provoking premise because who has never answered the question ‘if you were marooned on a desert island…’ and to be totally honest there are days that I think longingly of being stuck on a desert island but if this tale is anything to go by it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.


Anna is a 30-year old teacher who takes on a summer tutoring appointment, in the Maldives. She is looking for some time and space for self evaluation, to sort her priorities an work out the next step on her life path, and honestly who wouldn’t chose summer in the Maldives over tutoring in a Chicago library.

T.J. is a 16-year old boy itching for a summer to reconnect with his friends after spending a lot of time out of school fighting cancer. The time off has seen him drop behind so his parents insist on a summer vacation as a family. This is not the ideal way for any almost seventeen year old to spend a summer, regardless of the idyllic setting.

One last party with his friends sees T.J. flying out to meet his family, chaperoned by Anna, a little later. Suffering delays and rescheduled flights the pair are finally on a small seaplane headed to their final destination. Until a fatal heart attack fells the pilot and the plane crashes into the sea.

Anna and T.J. make it to shore, a little worse for wear but no life threatening injuries. They wash up with nothing but what they’re wearing and both are city dwellers feeling very out of their element. Not to mention that they are almost total strangers at this point and T.J. is resentful that he was on his way to the Maldives in the first place.

on the island

The bulk of the book follows the life that Anna and T.J. are forced to make for themselves on the island. The ways in which they were forced to adapt to their conditions, most of which seemed realistic enough considering I’ve never been marooned on an uninhabited island.  There were a few things that seemed a little unlikely on reflection but not enough that you need to totally suspend disbelief. Then there’s the fact that considering the circumstances they find themselves in coincidence still seems to favour them.

Chance smiles on them when pieces of the wreckage start to wash ashore, first there’s T.J.’s back pack which contains a bottle of water, then there’s Anna’s suitcase – the one with all the toiletries and clothes, not the one with the schoolbooks, and the emergency survival kit from the plane – which contains everything but the emergency beacon and phone. All of the things they require to make survival that much more likely, without bringing the prospect of rescue any closer.

There are hardships to be faced and this unlikely pair of strangers are forced to hone their survival skills – fast. But there aren’t as many life-threatening dangers as I would have expected. They see one shark which does cause them quite a bit of grief but is never an actual tangible threat to their lives. There are some storms but only one is major. It’s the little things that present the largest dangers – finding enough fresh water to stave off dehydration, finding food and building shelter.

Much of the book reminded me of Blue Lagoon, which to be honest I don’t think I have even seen in its entirety anyway so no this isn’t something I can explain. It all seemed very PG and quite innocent but the writing was on the wall.

On The Island, the bulk of it anyway, only really has two characters – Anna and T.J. stranded on the island. Yes, we meet some people from their Chicago lives in flashback but that’s what it is – reminiscing. Talking about their hopes and dreams for reunion with their loved ones and talking about their pasts as they get to know one another.

Two people stranded on an island in the middle of the ocean, a good looking lady and a hormonal teenage boy. Yes, the writing is pretty much on the wall. The age difference is pretty major but it does happen, you don’t hear about it as much with the older woman but it isn’t unheard of.

On The Island concentrates on the development of the relationship between Anna and T.J.  while they are on the island and then explores the consequences when they are eventually rescued almost four years later.

I think I have more trouble dealing with some of the events that take place after the island than on the island, and the ending ties everything up all neatly – almost a little too neatly.

All in all a light and enjoyable read that took me away to a Mediterranean island in the sun, but it also made me appreciate the convenience of always having fresh water and never having to go thirsty. I found myself flicking pages to follow the story and see where it would take me but at the same time it wasn’t gripping with excitement.

I will definitely be interested to see what Tracey Garvis Graves has in store for us next.

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