Sunday 30 June 2013

On the Island Review

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.

I have a confession to make.  I’ve had this book on my kindle for over a year now and last night I randomly chose to read it, you know, one of those “I’ll read a few chapters before bed” kind of deals, only this book took hold of me and would not let me go!  I should have known really as I’m a fan of these kind of stories – when I was younger, Blue Lagoon was my guilty pleasure movie - and I couldn’t go to bed until I’d finished the book.  It was compelling to say the least and I had to know how it all worked out in the end. 

Told in alternative points of view from both Anna and TJ, this is the story of a teacher and her student who are flying to the Maldives to stay with TJ’s family for the Summer while Anna tutors TJ.  He is recovering from cancer and needs to catch up academically speaking.  Sadly, they never make it as their charter plane goes down in the middle of the ocean and what follows is a story of survival as the pair are washed up on a tropical island. 

I knew roughly what the story was about going into it and I will admit to having a couple of reservations regarding the love aspect of the story, specifically because of the age difference and only because I thought it might be a bit weird but once you read the book, you understand it better and the age thing goes out of the window.  On the island, the only thing that matters is survival but what comes after is the most interesting question of all.  Anna and TJ shared an intensely traumatic experience which pretty much bonded them for life and I have to admit that I kinda envy the connection they have with each other.

I thought the story was fantastic and I loved how nothing came too easy for the characters.  There were trials and tribulations for them both on the island as well as on a personal level but the spirit and determination to survive these two showed was amazing.  They could have given up and waited to die but they didn’t.  They chose to live.  I feel like I’ve been on a journey WITH Anna and TJ, I’ve shared in their joy when they finally got the bloody coconuts open and cried with them when it seemed like all hope was lost.

What a fantastic debut novel this is and I can see now why it rocketed up the self publishing charts and eventually sold to a major publishing house for SEVEN FIGURES.  Even the film rights have been sold and I really hope they make this into a movie because I will be first in line to see it.  This is a truly beautiful story that comes highly recommended by me and would make a great holiday romance long as you’re not taking a charter plane to the Maldives ;)

On The Island was published in May 2012.  The companion novella Unchartered is published on 2nd July, 2013. To find out more about Tracey and her books, please click hereto visit her website.

No comments:

Post a Comment