Friday, 17 August 2012
On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a summer job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's holiday home in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation: a tropical island beats the library any day. T.J. has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He's almost seventeen and if having had cancer wasn't bad enough, he now has to spend his first summer in remission with his family instead of his friends. Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Marooned on an uninhabited island, Anna and T.J. work together to obtain water, food, fire and shelter but, as the days turn to weeks then months and finally years, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man. .
Sometimes, when I finish a book, I want to immediately restart it and this was one of those books. I found myself reading just one more chapter at night, and still be reading 5 chapters later.
The book starts with Anna, a 30 year old teacher, accepting a job over the summer break to travel to a tropical island, to privately tutor a 16 year old boy, T.J., who has missed a lot of school due to cancer treatment. However, when Anna and T.J. are traveling to the tropical island, to meet up with T.J.'s parents for the summer break, the pilot suffers a heart attack and dies, leaving them stranded at sea . Luckily, they reach an island, which appears uninhabited and it is they stay, hoping that someone will rescue them.
I found this book a brilliant read. It took me to the island in my mind, the blue skies and crystal clear water lapping on white beaches. However, there is also another side to this story, that of Anna and T.J. who must learn to survive on the island, with nothing to live on except what the island produces and hoping their luggage will wash up on the shoreline. This side of the story was brilliantly written - there was times when they were very resourceful and times of difficulty which they overcame.
The other story is the relationship between Anna and T.J. At the start it is that of teacher and pupil, who do not know each other very well when the disaster happens. However, they quickly become a team and work together to try and overcome any problems which life throws at them. However this relationship begins to change over time, as T.J. begins to mature into a man - I think that this is a slow change, with Anna first finding it difficult to accept the change in dynamics with T.J. wanting to become the 'man' of the island, being a hunter, gatherer and protecting Anna, whereas Anna was employed by T.J.'s parents as a teacher for their son, however now they are living in very close proximity and feelings are beginning to get stronger between them.
I do not want to ruin how this story ends, however I was very pleased with how the story did develop and especially the journey to the final ending. There was no, and they all lived happily ever after - there were more feelings to consider than just those of Anna and T.J. I think the author had a very detailed and well thought out progression to the story which approached the story from many different viewpoints and considered all affected by the story.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a great summer read, one to loose yourself in if you have a few hours to relax in the sun, or on a sofa, because once you start this book, you will not want to put it down!
Thank you to the publishers, Penguin, for sending me this book to review.