November 7, 2012
Review: On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves
On the Island is a story of survival- both physical and mental. It is also a love story full of challenges and hard choices.
It all starts when 30-year-old English teacher Anna accepts a plum job tutoring 17-year-old T.J. Callahan at his family's summer rental in the Maldives. T.J. missed a lot of school from battling cancer and during his first summer of remission he has to catch up on schoolwork- great. Anna and T.J. are en route to meet T.J.'s family in the Maldives when their pilot suffers a fatal heart attack and the plane crash lands in the Indian Ocean. Anna and T.J. survive and float to a deserted, uncharted island.
Anna and T.J. are strangers, having just met before they boarded the plane. Now they must work together to survive. They have to learn to make a fire and find water and food sources and build a shelter because rescue is not coming. The rescue beacon in the life raft is faulty and they cannot send for rescue.
Not only do they have to deal with the usual castaway problems- tropical storms, sharks getting in the way of fishing (their biggest source of protein), several injuries, and how to keep a supply of fresh water, they also have to worry about T.J.'s cancer returning and the fact that they are attracted to each other.
Anna knows that it is wrong to see T.J. in that light- she is his tutor and she is 12 years older than him. However, they form a close bond and they are all each other has on the island. As T.J. matures and turns 18, Anna finds herself falling hard for him, and he for her. And as T.J. begins to feel tired, they worry that the cancer has returned.
So while it is a typical castaway story in many ways, the addition of a cancer patient and a forbidden relationship gives it a breath of fresh air. It was an entertaining read and I found myself wanting to see how it ends.