Book Review: On the Island

After waiting eight years for her boyfriend Ben to make a commitment to their relationship, Anna Emerson, a thirty-year-old teacher decided it was time for a change. Anna took a summer assignment tutoring sixteen-year-old T.J. Callahan on an island in Indonesia. T.J., now in remission, was behind in his studies after a protracted battle with cancer. Though he preferred staying home to hang out with his friends, his parents insisted on a tropical vacation and with Anna’s assistance, catch up with his schoolwork. Carefully laid plans went terribly wrong when the pilot of their seaplane suffered a fatal heart attack at the controls, dumping them into the ocean. Thankfully, the current carried Anna and T.J. close to a small island where they had little choice but to await rescue. As time went on though, it soon became clear that rescue was unlikely and they would have to rely on each other and the pitiful bits of debris washed up from the wreckage to survive.  

Anna and T.J.’s knowledge and skills are tested beyond endurance as they struggle daily with getting sufficient food and water remaining sane enough to carry on. For three and a half years, Anna and T.J. lean on each other forging a powerful bond of mutual trust that evolved into a deep love. Surviving sharks, breakbone fever, broken bones and malnutrition might just be easier then weathering the social stigma and media firestorm that awaits the couple after their miraculous rescue. The question is, will Anna and T.J.’s love be strong enough to weather the challenges of civilization.

Grave’s first novel is a stunner plan and simple. Anna and T.J.’s characters are warm, comfortably flawed and remain true to their natures throughout the story that explores the double standard of an older woman in love with a much younger man. Although the two do fall in love and act on that, with their depth of feeling and total commitment, this is no Blue Lagoon. The challenges and solutions have an authentic feel though one has to question whether they really could have collected and stored enough water to carry them through the dry season. That small point in no way takes away from this powerful love story that will leave readers looking for more from this promising new author.

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