I am almost “speechless” to type this review because you all KNOW how much I love to read. And you all KNOW how much I love to read good, quality contemporary fiction. A lot of the books I’ve recommended in the past have been bestsellers that I’ve gradually gotten around to reading, as I make my way through library holds (and the library drama that ensues). Books like Room by Emma Donoghue, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, Long Drive Home by Will Allison, A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron, Night Road by Kristin Hannah.
I love a good book.
On the Island was a fantastic book.
I took a break from reading when I had butt surgery because I was in so much pain and then I was on so many drugs, I could not have paid attention to a plot if I tried. But after two weeks, I decided to try. And I looked on my Kindle for a highly-reviewed book — I trust reviews from my fellow readers — and I found On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves.
From reviews, I deduced the plot as: plane crash. 16yo student and 30yo tutor/teacher. Stranded on island for years. Narrative goes back and forth between T.J. (student) and Anna (teacher/tutor).
I inferred: They eventually hook up. They eventually get off the island.
Thankfully, the reviewers have kept pretty quiet about what happens on and off the island. And I’m not going to share a lot about that either. They learn to live on the island, finding water, starting and maintaining a fire, building a shelter — and battling the conditions. Which include storms, hungry bats, mosquitos, broken bones and illness. T.J. is a cancer survivor — he was supposed to receive summer tutoring from Anna because he’d missed school due to his illness. An emergency supply kit washes up that includes Tylenol and Benadryl. The island has a dry season. And a shark. They occasionally find a crab to eat. Nobody comes to rescue them.
At first, the chapters go day-by-day, but eventually weeks and months pass between chapters. They survive for years. And eventually, as T.J. becomes a man, they… well, you can guess what happens. Although, hand to goddess, it’s not icky, pervy, porny or gross. (And I’m very sensitive, after reading 50 Shades a few times.)
On the Island could have been REALLY cliched. It could have been 50 Shades of Lost, as my friend Amanda referred to it, when I told her I’d just finished a great book, and what it was about. (She hasn’t read it yet, I bet she changes her mind.)
But it wasn’t cliched. It was incredibly anxiety-provoking — it seems like every horrible thing that you imagine could happen when you’re stranded on a deserted island, does in fact happen — and deeply moving. I had tears in my eyes during several scenes. It was thoughtful, well-written (REALLY well-written; I was totally shocked to discover that the author is just a woman who decided to write a book. It’s pitch-perfect), and deeply engrossing. Extremely difficult to put down. I read it all in one night, then went back the next day and re-read it, as slowly as I could.
I don’t want to rave too much, lest there’s so much build-up that you all hate it, but based on all the reviews, I can’t imagine anyone could NOT like this book. I consider myself a tough critic, and this book never missed a step.
obnoxious engaging, I contacted the author to let her know how much I’d enjoyed her book. She thanked me very graciously — and then offered to send me a signed copy of the paperback for a reader! How nice is that?!?!?!?
So, while I urge you all to download it on your e-reader — and the price is $2.99, which is extremely reasonable! I’ve downloaded more expensive books that were terrible! — I also urge you to enter this giveaway for a signed paperback copy. Just leave a comment at the end of this post, and you’ll get a comment number. On my birthday, May 23, I’ll pick a number from the random number generator website. Screenshot will be included.
After the giveaway, I’ll post a F.A.Q of questions that Tracey, the author, has kindly answered for me, despite the fact that she’s probably answered them from a million other people and is hard at work on her next two books.