On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

Synopsis: T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He’s almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn’t bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family – and a stack of overdue assignments – 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. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter.

Their basic needs might be met 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.

Review: I heard so many things about this novel that I was immediately curious to discover it. I must say that I was still quite dubious when I found out what was the topic. It’s true, I do not really read books like this, but I told myself that I could only appreciate it in light of all the positive reviews I had the chance to read.

I must say that at the beginning of my read I asked myself a lot of questions. I could not understand how the readers were all swept away by the story. So when I talked to my friend Marcela, she told me to continue my reading and that we would talk in the end about it. And well, she was right, perhaps not to the point that I was hoping, but this book was still a nice surprise. I do not think I was blown away as some readers, but I think that the subject was treated very well and the story is realistic enough for us to believe it.

Anna is a young woman like any other, but after waiting for years for his companion to ask her to get involved and start a family, she needs a break. What a better way than to teach for several months on an island with a teenager in remission. A choice which will then allow her to take a step back over her life and question everything. But while they both are in a small plane back to their destination, the pilot dies of a heart attack in flight. Managing to survive by miracle, here are our two characters exiled on a desert island with nothing to help them. Surviving seems quite difficult when you have nothing. But Anna and TJ are full of ideas and they will adapt to this new environment, trying not to loose hope for their rescue.

This is a beautiful story, full of intense and sad moments. We feel that they need each other to survive. Their joys, their sorrows and their fighting spirit are strained and yet their desire to live there remains deep within them. I was impressed by what they were capable of doing, and how they fared. They are wonderful for each other and they help as best as they can. I did not expect that they would spend so much time on this island, and I admit that I was really curious to see how their relationship would evolve. It was also something quite difficult for Anna, and I think that she had successfully managed things about that. Then we witness the creation of a very strong link between these two people that wouldn’t have ever existed outside of this island. And yet here they are, moving, appreciating, and supporting each other whatever the circumstances. Of course we also share their sorrows and uncertainties. I think that the author had perfectly managed to share each other’s feelings with the alternating points of view through the chapters.

I confess, I did not know what to expect at the end of the novel, and I must say that I was surprised by some events, but I was also very touched by this conclusion. It really was a perfect ending after all they’ve been through.



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