Sunday, July 15, 2012

On The Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

On The Island. Tracey Garvis Graves. Plume/Penguin Group USA. July 2012. 336 pages - Paperback. ISBN #: 9780142196724.

Anna Emerson is traveling with T. J. Callahan to a tropical island for several months. He's on vacation after recovering from cancer treatment, and she's there to tutor him for the schooling he missed during his illness. As she's bored with her Chicago life and unsure about the guy she's dating who refuses to even contemplate any type of commitment, this strikes her as a chance for something very different as well as some space to think about what her future holds.  It turns out she's going to have more than a brief interlude to contemplate her future.

Things begin to go awry when she notices the pilot popping anti-acids, sweating profusely, and occasionally rubbing his chest.  Sure enough, he has a heart attack but manages to land the plane on water but so hard the aircraft begins to fall apart.  Clutching remaining pieces and eventually each other, they finally manage to float and swim to a sandy shore, an island with no other inhabitants. 

What follows are three-and-a-half years of growing intimacy and harrowing, life-threatening experiences with disease, jellyfish, storms, and more.  Just learning how to get enough food to survive is an extraordinary strain, not to mention the toll it takes physically on both of them.

At first, TJ is the one whose hormones kick in because of this tutor who he begins to appreciate as a woman, but it's Anna who refuses to cross the line for a long, long time.  How will they reconcile their growing intimacy with what they know people will say about their ages and what would be seen as an older woman seducing a much younger man, even a teen. And really, at this time, it doesn't seem as if they will ever be rescued.

The plot sounds fairly simple, but the way the author crafts the story keeps the reader intensely interested, enjoying the humor, feeling the tension, and rooting for the well-being of these engaging characters.  Some may say it stretches credibility but such tales of solitary island living have occurred in reality.  On The Island is a heart-wrenching, adventurous, and passionate read on so many levels - all in all a great summer read!