Review+Giveaway:On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

 Tour schedule

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.

Before we get into the review, please note that On the Island is an adult title. At the beginning of the book, one of the characters is a teenager, but at over 300 pages we cover 3-4 years of their lives. That said, there isn’t much here that isn’t suitable for teens. As always, use your best judgement!

I’ve always been kind of fascinated about survival stories. I’m not a complete girly-girl, but camping has never been my strong suit. When I first heard of On The Island I knew I wanted to read it.

You can’t help but feel for TJ, he’s been sick for awhile and is finally feeling better. Now he’s having to spend his summer with his family and a tutor on an island. Anna’s boyfriend won’t propose so she decides to accept the chance to tutor TJ without hesitation. A summer working on an island.

Their life on the island is heart-wrenching. Here’s this 16 year old teen stuck with his 30 year old tutor, granted they get along great, but it’s not exactly the ideal situation. As a reader, I couldn’t help but feel for each character. The entire world they’d created while on the island was terrifying, yet fascinating. I love that their relationship, especially the romantic side, felt so realistic. They didn’t just hop into anything, it gradually happened as TJ grew into a man instead of a boy.

On the Island is the sort of book that leads to many of those questioning trains of thought – “Would I be able to light a fire?” and even the more shallow thoughts like “What if I had no shampoo?”. Upon finishing On the Island, I’ve been haunted for days with these thoughts.

Now for the negative, I loved this book, but at times I felt like the writing style left something to be desired. Particularly in the transitions of time, it felt like something was just missing. I’m going to admit, it’s one of those times I can’t really articulate what I want, but I know I want something more. It was just awkward enough I felt pulled out of the story before I got sucked in, I know many of you know what I’m talking about. That said, those moments were few and within a paragraph or two I was right back in the story.

I had heard about On the Island for awhile before reading it, but now that I have I definitely see the appeal. I cannot wait to read more from Garvis-Graves.

I received my copy of On the Island: A Novel in exchange for my honest opinion from the publisher as part of the blog tour.


Giveaway LIO
Plume is offering 10 signed print copies for giveaway on the tour!

As a reminder, there are more chances to win and “meet” the author!

  • Monday, July 23 at 8:00 pm CST – Chat with the author Tracey Garvis Graves! We will be chatting with the author on Savor Chat: Come join us! (You can sign in with twitter or facebook)
  • Each day look at #ontheisland on twitter for random shout outs to win books and swag! @Tale_of_Reviews
  • ON THE ISLAND releases in bookstores Tuesday, July 17th! If you see the book in stores or ‘in the wild’ take a picture. Please tweet it and use hashtag #ontheisland. Or you can post it to facebook! Please submit twitter and facebook links of your post/tweet here!

No related posts.


  1. Lindsey says:

    I’ve heard good things about this book, would love to read it. thanks for the giveaway.

  2. Looks like a great summer read. Thanks so much for your giveaway. Have a great weekend!

  3. Jenny V says:

    I liked your honest review. I loved this book too, but agree with your on the writing style comments. Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. I have a copy of this from the publisher and will be reading it in August….your review has me curious. Thanks for sharing it :)

  5. Victoria Zumbrum says:

    Thanks for the giveaway. Please enter me in contest.

  6. Amy G says:

    I read the review and summary of the book. This reminds me of my younger days in school and how I had really nice and good looking mentors tutor me! Haha!

  7. amel armeliana says:

    I heard this book from a friend and she said this is a very good one. I want to read it myself and make my own opinion. Well, the boy only 17 and the girl already 30. So curios about that.

    Loved your honest review, great review.

    Thank u for this giveaway. Wish I’m the lucky one :)

    • Amanda says:

      I was worried it would be weird or questionable, but it isn’t at all. :) Hope you enjoy it when you get to read it! Good luck on the giveaway!

  8. Thanks for the awesome giveaway

  9. nurmawati djuhawan says:

    is this international ? if ‘yes’ please count me in ;)

    thx u 4 the giveaway…

  10. I have seen the cover of this book as I wander through the bookstore, but thinking it was just a beach read never picked it up. Reading your synopsis, I now must read it. I just finished the series Lost and loved it. It would be such a different read to what I have been reading as of late. Thanks!

    • Amanda says:

      I was the same! There’s no way I would’ve picked it up based on the cover alone unless I was wanting something super light.

      This one was a nice surprise!

Leave a Comment


Posted in Uncategorized