"On The Island" by Tracy Garvis Graves

Thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is in a long-term relationship is looking to get away from life for a while when she is offered a job as a summer tutor on a tropical island in the Maldives.  Her student, T.J. Callahan is seventeen and recovering from a difficult battle with cancer and the last thing he wants to spend his summer doing is studying.

Anna and T.J. set out for the Maldives together, planning to meet the rest of his family there, when the pilot of their private plane suffers a heart attack over the Indian Ocean.  The plane crashes in the shark-infested water and Anna and T.J. take refuge on the shore of an uninhabited island.  They spend their first few days waiting for rescue but after a while have to face the fact that they may never be found.  As their days turn to weeks, then to months and years, the castaways encounter violent storms, illness and the harshness of struggling to meet their basic needs.  And soon they encounter another obstacle, the growing realization that T.J. is becoming a man and with that their relationship becomes more than complicated.

On The Island by Tracy Garvis Graves has it all - shipwreck, danger, love and struggle.  There is no denying that this is the breakout book of the summer with over 1000 five star reviews on Amazon.  Everywhere you look, people are reading and loving this book.

So here's the deal.  I thought it was alright.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't fantastic for me.  I think the plot is incredible.  To spice up the shipwreck story, Anna is 30 and T.J. is 17.  But T. J. comes of age on the island and really, if you try to put yourself in the situation, you can see why they ended up together.  So I give kudos to Tracy Garvis Graves for the interesting plot.  

However, it was the writing style that didn't do it for me.  It came across as very basic, everything was easy and predictable.  It felt formulaic.  It didn't set the scene.  Conflicts were resolved quickly, when they were in need of something it seemed to just wash up on shore.  Months flew by in a page and before you knew it they'd been there for years and it felt like not very much had happened.  When something very big did happen just after halfway through, I finally became interested and thankfully that held me to the end.

This book has already been optioned for a movie and I think that's a good thing.  Like I said, I liked the plot but I just couldn't put myself in the story.  I think if it was given more depth and more time, like it probably will be in the movie form, it can be a good story.  I did read this book in a day so if you're looking for something to make a quick escape into, this will do.  

I received this book courtesy of Penguin Canada.  The opinions expressed above are purely my own.


  1. I've been eyeing this book in the bookstore ever since it came out but never picked it up because it seems to smack of triteness and predictability.

    1. I hadn't heard of the book until I was offered it. After reading it I read the reviews and was surprised it was the same book. It happens though. Good to know I'm not the only one feeling this way.

  2. I've heard very good things about this one, but I haven't read it yet. Thanks for the honest review.

    1. I seem to be in the minority with my feelings about this book. It happens to everyone I guess!


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