On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves is one of the most amazing novels I have read this year.... It's on my top 10... well top 5... okay so it's at a tie for #1....
When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.
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.
Before I start telling you all how amazing this book is I need to say a few Thank Yous!!! First Thank You is to my lovely friend Jenny ♥ she recommended this book to me, raving about how touching the story is... and she did this the same day I received a package from my second Thank You ! My second Thank You, is to the amazing author of this book Tracey ♥! Your generosity and kind words touched my heart more than I can ever thank you for! You are absolutely wonderful and I am so glad to have met you!!!
Okay on with one of the most heart warming stories I have read in a while....
Can I just say how much I LOVED Anna... She was simply fantastic in every possible way... Calm, understanding, loving, caring, and most of all strong. When I say strong, I mean she is one of the strongest heroines I have ever read about... and I have read a lot of books. She's taken as job as a tutor for the summer and as an added bonus she is going to be tutoring in a tropical paradise... but she agreed to this job for personal reasons as well, it's time she figures out what she wants to do about her relationship with her long term boyfriend and uses this opportunity as a way to get some space so she can clear her head and think.
TJ....I just adored him, absolutely loved him. Even though he was only 16 when this book starts our he's so much more mature than a typical 16 year old... I know that has to do with fighting cancer and it breaks my heart that he had to go through that as it breaks my heart that any child has to grow up so quickly because they have to fight. Watching him grow during this book made me love him even more. He was so sweet and never complained.... which is saying a lot considering he is a male.... he just took everything in stride and dealt with things as they came along. He was smart, creative, and an extremely hard worker. TJ was not thrilled to be going on this vacation, as a 16 year old who just spent what probably felt like an eternity to him fighting for his life, just wanted to stay home and hang out with his friends. But since he couldn't have all summer he asked his parents to let him fly out a few days later with Anna.
After the plane crash and making it to dry land, Anna and TJ work together just to survive. They fight exhaustion, injuries, dehydration, illnesses, and growing feelings for each other for years before one night when their bond was made stronger by becoming physical. I knew it would come but I expected it to happen before it did... Now I don't want you to take that the wrong way because yes I know he was 16 and she was 30 and quite frankly to me that's just not right and kinda gross.... but I was shocked that he was almost 19 before anything had happened.... They were close, they talked about everything, they did everything together... but they both fought it until they just couldn't anymore. Obviously being a man TJ didn't seem to struggle with his thoughts about it like Anna did and even though I was thinking that Anna should go for it, I totally got her reasoning... I would have had them myself. But when it finally happens their relationship becomes so sweet and when TJ confesses his feelings to Anna... on a special day at that... I knew there was something more than special between these two.... the forever kind of special!
Just as the symptoms malnutrition start to get bad... things go down hill and tragedy strikes the Island. Anna and TJ are separated and fighting for their lives hoping the best for each other when they are finally found, finally rescued, and taken home to their families.
This is when I lost it, when the tears came and I realized that even though I was captivated by TJ and Anna's time on the Island, they still had SO MUCH left to face. My heart broke over and over again for these two that I felt their pain, the grief, and the uncertainty that still had to be dealt with. I got mad at both of them for reasons you will understand once you've read the book... but then I had to remind myself of their age difference because on the island there didn't seem to be one and now that they are back home and facing reality it's a constant reminder of the different life experiences they have either already faced or should have the opportunity to face.
It took some time and it took a lot of reflecting for both of them but when the moment finally happened... It was beautiful, I mean so beautiful I lost it right along with them. I'm only going to share one quote with you because it is my favorite quote in this book.... it had me sobbing and rushing to get a tissue because of the meaning behind it...
On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves was one of the most heart consuming stories I have read in a long time. I get consumed by a lot of my books because I love to lose myself in a good book but very rarely do I get so consumed that my heart is involved and is so involved that I'm not ready to let go of the Characters. I was NOT ready to let go of TJ and Anna even though Tracey gives one heck of an amazing HEA!!! This book was phenomenal... the writing is stellar, and when I say that I mean I felt like I was right there on that Island with TJ and Anna... I heard the waves crashing, the bats flying overhead, the chickens flapping, and the dolphins playing in the water. I felt their fear and their pride when they completed something that seemed impossible even hours before. Tracey has got talent, talent that I am thankful that she shared with us readers, and most of all talent that has me anxiously awaiting her next book, Covet, which is coming out in Fall of this year.... Eeek!!! Make sure you check out One the Island, you will love it!!!"On the Island, I promised that if you just held on we would spend this Christmas together, in Chicago. I will always keep my promises to you, Anna."