Book review: On the Island, Tracey Garvis Graves

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“On the Island is the story of Anna, a thirty-year-old tutor/teacher; and T.J., a sixteen-year-old student who is recovering from cancer. T.J.’s mom hired Anna to help him catch up on his studies over the summer since he missed so much school while in the hospital. While en route to meet with his parents, their pilot has a heart attack and their plane crashes into the ocean. Anna and T.J. wash up on an island with no idea how long they will be stranded there together.”

Published by Penguin on 16th August 2012

RRP £7.99 (Original paperback edition)


Reviewer: Carolyn, Southowram, Halifax

This was a book that I will admit I first found difficult to get into.  I found it hard to be absorbed within the story initially. I have to be truthful though, my perseverence paid off and by the time I got half way through I just couldn’t put it down. I did like how the chapters were short as this is perfect for that snatched moment where you can quickly read a chapter.

The characters were portrayed and built well. You could feel yourself becoming involved in the twists and turns of the story. The scene was set well and you could just feel how hard it would be to be without those ‘creature comforts’. It was very much thought provoking and made me consider just how I would deal with such a life experience and the emotions that you would go through. It is well written how it may feel to have a relationship that has to change and develops because of the circumstances and length of time spent on the island. The pace of the book went with where the scene was set at the time showing a variety of styles of writing.  I do think that what threw me in a nice way was the ending as I really did not expect it.

Reviewer: Lorraine, Trinity, Jersey

On the Island is one of those wonderful books that’s easily devoured in one sitting, yet leaves you pondering its storyline for days afterwards.  The initial pages set up the background to the characters before they embark on their fateful trip that leads to the main plot.

While elements of the storyline are somewhat predictable – man and woman marooned on desert island; debris floating to shore – it’s the frequent obstacles put in Anna and TJ’s path that make this an exciting read.  How they interact with each other and act as support and comfort in times of stress makes the reader wonder how he/she might cope.  The complication of TJ’s illness and the massive age gap all throw in more problems to the pot!

The story is well written and follows a well thought-out timeline that leaves the reader wondering how Anna and TJ’s family are coping back home and gives the reader the feeling of time endlessly passing on the island with no change in events and even less hope of rescue.

The characterisation is excellent, with fantastic descriptions yet enough left unsaid for the reader to empathise and consider how he/she might feel or act in a similar situation.

A thoroughly enjoyable story with that feel good factor.  I would definitely pass on or recommend this book to my girlfriends.  A perfect weekend read.


Reviewer: Linda, Eaton Socon, St. Neots

On the Island by Trisha Garvis Graves seems to have caused almost as much of a storm in the USA as the The 50 Shades trilogy. Not having read the famous trilogy, I’m not in a position to make an informed judgement. Those of you who have read it, I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

When I received the book the cover got me very excited. The beautiful island setting and the blue sea so very inviting. Reading the blurb the excitement lessened somewhat. A plot with cancer and plane crashes is not my ideal read even if this is a love story. However, after reading the book I would say to not let this put you off.

A brief synopsis: 30 year old school teacher Anna is offered a  summer job tutoring 16 year old TJ. TJ is in remission from suffering cancer and needs to catch up on missed school work before starting the new term. On their way to the island to join TJ’s family, the pilot of their sea plane suffers a fatal heart attack and the plane crashes in the Indian Ocean. Stranded on an island, the book follows their plight and the challenges they face with their survival and of living together in close quarters for a long time.

At the start, the situations Anna and TJ find themselves in grab your attention and you want them to survive, however as the book progresses I feel that the author may have been scrabbling for ideas resulting in one or two of them being a little over the top.

In essence On the Island is a good read and you should give it a go. It has its moments when you’re on tenterhooks and really cheering the characters on. I’m not sure I’d read it again but I’m happy that I’ve added it to my list of books read.


Reviewer: Sarah, Mill Hill, London

An unputdownable read!

I picked this up expecting a re-working of Blue Lagoon updated for the 21st century but was delighted to find a novel that was fresh, moved at a fast pace and kept my attention firmly gripped from the first page to the last, where I was very sad to say goodbye to two characters I felt I had got to know very well.

Yes, one could be cynical and say how convenient it was that just when things got desperate the very item they needed appeared as if by magic, but I preferred to allow myself to be carried away on the excitement and ebbs and flows of the storyline and willed there to be a solution each time and was delighted they made it through.

I thought the tie-in of a real-life event that enabled them to achieve their long-awaited dream was cleverly and neatly linked into the story and I enjoyed the fact that the story didn’t end there but continued to give us the opportunity to find out “what happened next”…and journey through the ebbs and flows of their relationship changes to discover whether they got their “happy-ever-after ” ending….or not?!

A really enjoyable read, which captures its readers attention from the first page and keeps them firmly engrossed! I have been recommending this to all my friends!


Reviewer: Anita, St. Austell, Cornwall

This book concentrates mainly on the two central characters of Anna and T.J. Anna is a teacher who is employed to tutor T.J. through the summer in order to help him to get the grades he missed out on while recovering from cancer. When they get stranded on an uninhabited island, their quest for survival in the initial weeks and following years is compulsively page-turning material.

Told in an alternating narrative style between Anna and T.J. the author manages to bring the reader right into the heart of each character, bringing their inner thoughts and fears to the forefront of the reader’s imagination. They come to life as every dangerous event and solution is dealt with.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it difficult to stop turning the pages when I knew I had to because of work commitments. If I had one negative to say about it, it’s that I am not a personal fan of epilogue endings; they always seem to wrap up all the loose ends too quickly leaving me feeling cheated. That said, it hasn’t detracted from my enjoyment of the book and I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading chick lit drama with a different twist.


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