Thursday, August 16, 2012

Book Review: On the Island

Anna Emerson is a 30-year-old teacher who has agreed to tutor 16-year-old TJ Callahan for the summer while his family vacations on an island in the Maldives. Things go from bad (flight delays which lead to a missed flight) to absolutely disastrous when their plane crashes into the ocean, leaving Anna and TJ stranded. As days pass into weeks and months, the two must learn to depend on each other as they struggle to survive and keep hope that they will be rescued. How long can they last on an isolated island? Will their friendship cross the line into something romantic? If they are rescued, will they be able to adapt to the real world after living in isolation for so long? (Synopsis courtesy of Kathryn Hamilton)

Amy Bromberg:

Have you ever kissed a book when you finished it? I don’t mean a full on kiss, so don’t get grossed out or start thinking weird things about me now. I’m definitely guessing that you’ve read a book where you just couldn’t get enough of it. For me, that would be like a fantastic piece of chocolate or a heavenly ice cream sundae at Emack & Bolio’s. THE BEST HOMEMADE ICE CREAM AND FUDGE EVER! Okay, I’m focusing on my review now.

All I can say is if I wasn’t on pain meds (I had foot surgery recently), I would have finished this in one sitting. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people I’ve spoken to who have read this that quickly.

Tracey has such a unique talent for words and imagery where she makes her characters come alive. It’s as if I felt Anna and TJ throughout the story, kind of like feeling the soft fur on a dog or cat. It also felt as if I saw them, like seeing all the colors of a peacock’s tail. I loved how both Anna and TJ never gave up and tried to make the best of the island. It really does show that years ago people did survive with nowhere near the amount of things and luxuries we have. But you know what they did have? LOVE, which is the most important thing in the world.

As opposed to most times when I finish a book, I just go on to the next one, here I kept thinking about the book and wanted to pick up the sequel to it. No, there’s not a sequel, but part of me wishes there was one so I can keep being part of TJ and Anna’s journey.

The only slight negative thing I can think of is that the story is kind of far fetched in that in real life not many people would be able to survive being on an island this long. Yes, Tom Hanks was stranded longer in Cast Away, but then again, we are talking about fiction in both cases, where anything goes.

"On the Island" is definitely on my top 2012 reads list! It’s packed with such a vast amount of emotions. I am absolutely flabbergasted this is Tracey’ first novel. It’s been a while since I read a debut novel where the writing was impeccable. Oh and by the way it’s been optioned or a movie! Cannot wait for the next one, Tracey!

Kathryn Hamilton:

I decided to read “On The Island” when supportive fellow author Michele Gorman posted a book club for the novel on Facebook. I am so grateful that she introduced me to Tracey Garvis-Graves’ debut novel. It is certainly one that is intriguing and draws the reader in instantly. I felt that Ms. Garvis-Graves’ storytelling was captivating. Told alternately from Anna and TJ’s perspectives, readers are able to get to know both characters thoroughly and intimately through their own thoughts and the observations of each other. These two protagonists are characters that readers will enjoy and come to care about. TJ is so mature for his age because of what life has already thrown at him, but he is also revealed to be a typical teenage boy in many ways which is refreshing and realistic. It is this quality that makes him a likeable character. I also felt drawn to Anna. She is moral, strong, resilient, and steadfast. Although Anna is older and in many ways takes a leader role, she never comes across as parental and the two eventually become equals as they discover their strengths. They both handle an impossible situation far more successfully than I ever would (I fear that I would be hopeless if ever stranded...or even lost for that matter).

The author deals with sensitive and controversial topics in an honest and respectful manner. I found myself eagerly wanting the relationship to blossom, and hoping that it would be a matter of “when” not “if.” I am sure there are several readers who would be uncomfortable with this idea due to their age difference (13 years). Despite this, I do believe that the Ms. Garvis-Graves has written both Anna and TJ in such a way that readers will root for their relationship to grow and flourish.

Although overall I was very pleased with the novel, there were a couple of instances where I felt that the scenarios were unrealistic. Without wanting to give too much away, I felt that it was slightly too convenient for suitcases and bags to wash up when they did. As well, even with stringent rationing, I thought the supplies they had would not have lasted as long as they did.

One indication that an author has created something memorable is that readers talk and think about it long after they’ve closed the last page. “On The Island” is certainly making waves as more readers discover this delightful novel. Be sure to get your copy today and find out why everyone is loving Tracey Garvis-Graves!

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Unknown said...

Really nice review. I'm not sure this one is for me, but sounds interesting.

Krystal Lynn said...

Just finished it yesterday and LOVED it. Also picked it up because of Michelle Gorman making her "one book book club" online and because I kept seeing it everywhere. Hope it gets made into a movie after all!

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

You sold me. Going on my TBR list NOW!

Anonymous said...

This is not the type of books I like reading but I suprisingly loved this book. I am very impressed. Great review.