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On The Island - Tracey Garvis Graves

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Author: Tracey Garvis Graves / Paperback / 368 Pages / Book is published 2012-08-16 by Penguin

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      22.10.2012 15:07
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      A tale of tragedy and triumph

      High school teacher Anna has been hired as a tutor for the summer, helping 16 year old T.J. who has missed a fair amount of school due to illness. Leaving the USA behind, the two of them head over to the Maldives where his parents have hired a holiday home, but instead of gracefully descending into paradise, they crash land, quite literally, into a nightmare. Their pilot has a heart attack, their sea plane plummets into the ocean, and they wash up on a deserted desert island. The unlikely twosome has to band together to survive and wait out their rescue, but as weeks and then months pass, hope fades and they have to wonder what will happen if no one ever finds them. The book is told from Anna and T.J.'s points of view, alternating chapter to chapter, but no other characters get to input into the story, so we know only what they know. There may be frantic rescue attempts being coordinated from within the Maldives and beyond but we never find out about them. And, as the years pass, both speculate about what their friends and family back home must be thinking, what they must be doing, but as readers we are left just as much in the dark as they are. This is a breath taking story that I could not get enough off. Though the author has surely never been marooned on an island with no hope of being saved, she has imagined it wonderfully and in great detail. I adored the way their complaints evolve as the story progresses, from the basic needs of food and shelter to the more settled ones, such as hair that grows long and knotty without scissors or braces that the orthodontist should have removed months ago. The relationship between Anna and T.J., hinted at on the back cover, is captivating, and made all the more tricky because they started off as teacher and student, meaning there are more implicit boundaries than if they had just been strangers together on the same plane. Seeing things progress, and having both parties explain how they see it, had me hooked and routing for a happy ending, or as happy an ending as one can wish for when both parties are malnourished, at the mercy of the elements, and in constant danger of attacks by bats, sharks, and everything in between. I think it could have worked either way, but double standards being what they are, I think people would have objected a lot more if it had been an older male teacher and a female teenage student, so I can see why it was done the way it was, and I loved the line where T.J. says "It was definitely my idea". I wasn't expecting it to be the love story it is, and I was happy to go with the flow instead of trying to predict the ending, though ultimately I was extremely satisfied with how it finished. This is the sort of story you come away from believing anything is possible. Even in the face of adversity, it is uplifting, tender, funny and raw. It's very pragmatic but it's moving with it, and it was definitely one of my tom rated reads of the year so far. Highly recommended for fans of Emily Barr and Diane Chamberlain. This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk On The Island is out now in paperback and on Kindle.

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