Book Review: On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

Title: On the Island
Series: On the Island #1
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Published: 06/07/2012
Publisher: Plume
Genre(s): Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Action & Adventure


Two people stranded on an island struggle to survive—and slowly fall in love—in the runaway New York Times bestseller from the author of the forthcoming novel COVET.

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.

Any expectations I may have had when I decided to read On the Island have certainly been blown clear out of the water. From the opening line to the last sentence this book was as close to perfectly plotted and paced as imaginable. Although I thought the length of the book (equivalent to 334 pages) was ideally balanced between set-up, character introduction, the passage of time on the island, and life following their rescue I certainly didn't want to say good-bye to T.J. and Anna. I consider this a remarkable novel, period. The fact that it is from a first-time author makes it even more impressive. The wait for her next novel, Covet, will seem long indeed. [Update: Uncharted was published July 2, and it was another phenomenal read!]

If she had gotten sick, the only thing I could have done was watch her suffer. Bury her next to Mick when she died. 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. ~ T.J.

The selfish part of me, however, couldn’t fathom not falling asleep in his arms or being with him every day. I needed T.J., and the thought of being away from him bothered me more than I wanted to admit. ~ Anna

“I’ve been in love with you for months. I’m telling you now because I think you love me, too, Anna. You just don’t think you’re supposed to. You’ll tell me when you’re ready. I can wait.” ~ T.J.


“I want you to be my wife. There’s no one else I want to spend the rest of my life with. We can live out here, you, me, our kids, and Bo. But I get it now, Anna. My decisions affect you, too. So now you have one of your own to make. Will you marry me?” ~ T.J.

My Authorgraph!


Crystal :) said…
Yes, indeed this book was remarkable! I will never forget it and hope to re-read it someday!
Anonymous said…
I agree with this book being beyond amazing. I read it within an hour and a half and, oh how I wished that it lasted just a little while longer! I felt like their love wasn't an unachievable in real life, even though they were stuck in some pretty crazy circumstances. This is probably one of the resounding features of On the Island that made me love it so much (also, come on, who can't fall in love with T.J.!!!) Thank you for your thoughts!