Book Review – On The Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

by Maryse on December 30, 2011 · 31 comments

in Miscellaneous

On the Island: A Novel
This book has quite a little buzz about it, and Tina and I went all out yesterday. Well me, more like last night, after work until 2am. I started it at 8pm and didn’t put it down once, until I was done. It is soooooooooooo good. No. SO much better than that. It’s awesome!!!! I’d even say it makes my “Best of the Year” list, and I will probably think about it forever. And ever!

Tina gave me updates throughout the day (killing me in the process ’cause I couldn’t read it until I got home):

Tina: I’ve cried. Have shed actual tears. Currently at 66%

Maryse:  I wanna read it now. Like NOW! I wanna cry too!

Tina: I’m at 69%. OMG… heart clutching. Yes. Must read.

Yep! Killin’ me.

Maryse: I’m readin’ it now! I’m so excited!

Tina: awesome. I’m here sweetie – you are going to be commenting I’m sure.

So what’s it about? A devastating event that is pretty much everyone’s worst nightmare. You’ve seen this before (sorta) in the the past with a certain movie, and a certain show. But this one lays it all out for you, piece by piece. Day by day. For as long as their nightmare rides out. And at times you can barely catch your breath with the turn of events. Your mind focuses on the what if. You connect to the characters so perfectly, and experience their struggles in such vivid detail and so many of the things you thought “what if…” about, actually comes to life for them.

Because you see, 16 year old T.J. and his 30 year old tutor, Anna are flying to meet up with his parents in a house they rented on an Island in the Maldives. Their son has just battled and survived cancer, and this is their getaway, as he catches up with the schooling he’s missed while he’s been sick. But along the way, right over the Indian Ocean, their tiny plane, that was commissioned just for the two of them, crashes. Floating in the ocean for hours, T.J. struggles to swim them both to shore, when they finally approach a small deserted island. Anna is badly hurt, and extremely disoriented, concussed and won’t wake up. He’s freaking out! As I was.

And so the story goes. Their hope for a search plane diminishes as each day goes by. They struggle to stay alive, due to their lack of supplies and wilderness survival skills. It almost seems like everything is against them. The first few days are an absolute nightmare as they recover from their plane crash injuries, and then dehydration. The consequences of their desperate decisions plague them.

T.J. woke up. “What’s wrong?”

“My stomach hurts.” I prayed the cramping would stop but it only got worse, and I knew what was about to happen.

But slowly… their belongings start washing up on shore, and they begin truly living again. Not just living long enough to be rescued. But simply… living.

I spread the blankets out and put the seat cushions down for pillows. The blankets were scratchy but they’d keep us warm when the sun went down and the temperature dropped. The seat cushions were thin and smelled of mildew, but it was luxuriously comfortable compared to sleeping on the ground.

“This is awesome,” T.J. said.

“I know.”

A bit smaller than a double bed, sharing the life raft with T.J. would leave only a few inches between us. I was too tired to care.

You experience it all with them. You’ll feel every moment. Their constant struggles to stay alive, their tiny successes. Their HUGE accomplishments. Their hope of rescue that eventually turns into their acceptance of their reality. Their bonding, friendship, silly-fun moments…

Maryse: Oh he IS a brat!

Tina: Oh those tender moments! Snicker… I almost want go to back to the page you’re on and read again with ya!

… and fears.

Tina: Yep… with only each other to cling to, survive with. I can’t imagine.

Maryse: Thank god they had each other… Imagine alone?

Their fights. They celebrate. They cry. There are good days, great days, bad days and horrific days.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I imagined the isolation and pain I would feel if T.J. was gone. “I don’t know if you can die of loneliness, but after awhile I might want to,” I whispered.

And deep inside, they always keep that little spark that somehow, someday, they will be reunited with their friends and family once again.

I know what you’re thinking. He’s 16, and she’s 30? They are thrown together in this unimaginable situation for how long? And they are so obviously bonding as they only have each other for comfort, right? Right. But no worries here. I can assure you of that.

Tina: The age thing totally totally TOTALLY disappears he’s 19 when… and hulking over 6 ft tall…

Maryse: I so appreciate the author letting him become a man before indulging them.

Tina: a 16 year old lanky kid verses that transformation into manhood.

Maryse: Exactly. It let’s me read in peace. Very happy for that. I can enjoy every moment.

Yep. He doesn’t stay a kid forever. And I loved the author for it!

Oh there is love and a beautiful romance, but not before the time is right. Their’s is a long journey, and I promise you, well worth living it with them. And that’s all I can tell you. Of course, lots happens. SO MUCH more than what I’ve revealed here. I’ve started it for you, now you can peel away the rest. ;)

This book… *squee* worthy for sure!

4.5 stars!

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebeka December 31, 2011 at 5:20 AM

Just bought the book on amazon♥

I can’t wait to get into it !
I’m in the mood for a little sadness.

Maryse December 31, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Yay!! You’ll love it!

Tori December 31, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Maryse!!! This is why I can’t live without this blog. I started this book last night ’cause I just couldn’t get into the one I was trudging my way through…and finished it almost 6 hours later! I couldn’t sleep, I got so involved. And I never would have found this little eye-blurring gem without you. Thanks a million for being my go-to source for good reads. Now, for a nap…

Lauren December 31, 2011 at 5:16 PM

Oh you are such a bad influence on my sleeping. I loved this one was up late could not put it down. Thanks for another great recommendation.

Maryse December 31, 2011 at 9:38 PM

YAY!!! I’m so glad I’m not alone in my zombie-like state. I need a full day nap.

Tracey Garvis Graves January 1, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Thank you for this wonderful review Maryse (and I love the picture!). Also a big thank you to Rebeka, Tori, and Lauren. I am so glad you liked On the Island!!


Julie January 1, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Read this one right away as soon as you listed it on Facebook, it was SOOOO good!! One of the best I’ve read in a while, Maryse, thank you! I just keep thinking about them and how sweet they are and everything they went thru. So well written and normally I probably wouldn’t have liked a couple w/the age difference like that but in their case it was just such a sweet story! love, loved it!!! One of those I couldn’t put down, love it when I find a book like this….or you do haha

Maryse January 1, 2012 at 12:58 PM

Tracey – Thank YOU for putting that story out there! It has made my top favorites of the year list. :)

Maryse January 2, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Julie! I love finding books like this, too! And when Tina does! LOL!

Elizabeth January 2, 2012 at 8:17 PM

Not going to lie..almost didn’t get this book. I know you have never steered me wrong…not even once lol…but I was still hesitant. Than reading the story…wow it was so beautiful!! Couldn’t even put it down…1am came around and I would say one more chapter…just one more…last chapter lol. Stayed up WAY to long, but SO worth it! I don’t even have words to describe how I loved this book! Keeping my eye out for more from this author!

Maryse January 3, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Elizabeth… me too. I can’t wait to see what else she comes up with. What a journey that book took us on. I’m already missing it!

patricia January 16, 2012 at 10:34 AM

Wow……loved it..,..

Becky April 24, 2012 at 2:01 PM

I’m late to the party on this one. but wow this book really hit me. I started reading and didn’t put it down until I was finished.

This is a book that will stay with me for a long time.

Martine May 4, 2012 at 8:12 PM

Now I ‘ ll have to buy this book :) after this review !!!

Christine May 7, 2012 at 5:03 PM

This is why I love your blog! I feel like you write every review directly to me, it’s exactly what I want to hear but you don’t give a lot away. I can’t wait to read this!!

bonitajia May 30, 2012 at 4:22 PM

Oh My! I just finished the book. I read a review of it at thing I read it coz I can’t put it down..It is a refreshing read. You feel what the characters undergo because their emotions are told so vividly and in both the characters’ point of views. The steamy scenes are steamy but it didn’t detract from the quality of how the story was told.

I read somewhere that a movie will be made out of this book!! If this is so then I already have my preference to who will play Anna and T.J.

It is always a habit of mine that whenever I read a novel/ story, I first imagine what they would look like. I’m an imaginative reader so this helps me a lot with my reading. Most of the time I read the first chapters and get a sense of the characters and from there I envision it. Usually, I imagine some actors.

It is no different with this book. Putting these actors’ faces on the characters made the scenes in the book more exciting, dramatic (or whatever the author wants us the readers to feel) in the story.

I imagined NATALIE PORTMAN for ANNA and BEN BARNES for T.J. I always find Natalie to have both the look of maturity and intelligence in her yet at the same time, she has this effervescence that makes you wonder whether she’s younger than her actual age. She is sweet and charming and at the same time she is sexy. I had a hard time thinking of T.J. Who would play a 16-17 year old boy who will rock the brooding ill look with braces. Someone who could play a young man and evolve into an adult. I thought of Cam Gigandet at first but he wouldn’t pass the sickly type..Others will fit the sickly look but will not pass into the T.J. with long hair, dark tan and lean muscles. One who will exude the vulnerability and strength, the innocence and the maturity, and one who can radiate both youthfulness and manliness. Suddenly, I remembered this actor who acted as Prince Caspian in Narnia who also portrayed the same youthful yet manly roles in Easy Virtue and Dorian Gray. He would be terrific because he will be able to play a teenager with the pale almost bald look with a brace on his teeth then one who grew into a man who is tanned with beautiful long hair and with lean muscles. He could smile with naivety and could like at you with smoldering eyes like he’s already experienced.

If it will really turn into a movie, I do hope that Natalie Portman and Ben Barnes get cast as Anna and T.J. because they would be perfect for the role, personally speaking.

May July 7, 2012 at 1:56 PM

Omg!! Amazing novel. I couldn’t put it down.

Lisa K September 8, 2012 at 7:19 PM

I started it last night and finished it this morning…LOVED it!!!!!!!!!!!!! I especially loved the way he loved her…sigh…

Patty October 10, 2012 at 9:33 AM

I’m about 75% and I’m afraid how it might end…Please tell me I will like it….stayed up until 12:45 and then up with my Son at 6am at the kitchen counter…my husband just looked at me and was like “your kidding me right” i grunted “go to work. Now I’m at work and can’t get my head clear of TJ and Anna……cant wait to go home for lunch……..seriously.

Patty October 12, 2012 at 6:51 PM

Finished……Yup I loved this one too. OMG how do you guys do this…I need a cleaning lady since I started this reading addiction, nothing gets done around here….

ONTO…….Marriage Trap

Sonia October 23, 2012 at 8:17 PM

This book was so moving. I panicked, I laughed, I cried and in the end I smiled. Loved it!

Raelene December 31, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Ooh- must get this one! Looks like a roller coaster of emotions!

Bonnie December 31, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Looks like a good one! Adding it to my wish list!

Teresa E December 31, 2012 at 3:56 PM

I am gonna have to read this one!!

Sherry ;) December 31, 2012 at 7:17 PM

Have not read this one yet
Just sayin ;)

Suzanne January 1, 2013 at 5:54 AM

Doesn’t seem to be available via amazon in Australia? ;(

surj January 2, 2013 at 10:26 AM

just finished it and loved it. such an emotional rollercoaster for both characters especially towards the end.

Takisha January 3, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Just finished this at 201am…..OMG!!!!!! LOVED THIS ONE!!! I started back seriously reading last year in May and i came across this book a few times read the description and just put it off until the other day Paige Turner posted on your FB page to stop what youre doing if you havent read this book, buy it and read and thats what I did…i was hooked from the first few pages!!! So beautifully written and captivating and heartbreaking..LOVED It so good still thinking about it!!

Michelle M. February 22, 2013 at 12:04 AM

Bought it yesterday, finished it tonight, LOVED IT!!! I would have finished it hours ago, but I have this silly thing called a job that keeps interrupting my reading. This story was beautiful. I’ve had it on my TBR list for months and am ashamed to say I grossly underestimated what to expect. The events on the island are dramatic and seem beyond experiences most of us could probably relate to, but you end up feeling like you’re right in there with them because you can FEEL them emotionally. The relationship they develop on the island feels completely natural, and their struggles when they return seem realistic. The beauty of this story is in the sweetly ordinary and painfully human moments between these two characters. Their relationship may not be considered “conventional” due to their age difference, but the characters are layered enough that the age difference becomes simply just one piece of their story. This was a great read. <3

Bethan September 15, 2013 at 11:33 AM

Loved this book! Can’t stop thinking about it!! Wish I could re read it for the 1st time again!! Lol xx

Jenn December 8, 2015 at 12:00 AM

Own the book and the audiobook……one of my favorites

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