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.
AH’s Review – 4 Skulls – A-
I really did not expect to enjoy On the Island as much as I did. In a way, it is a perfect summer vacation read. Set on an isolated island in the Maldives, On the Island explores the hardships of being marooned on a desert island, with little hope of rescue. Written in alternating first person point of view, the book tells the story of teenager T.J. Callahan and Anna Emerson.
Life on the island is difficult. Our survivors must contend with the lack of supplies: no food, fresh water, or shelter. There is also an abundance of insects, rats, bats, and other critters. Then there is the weather – a lengthy dry season and a destructive tropical storm season. I couldn’t help thinking of Gilligan’s Island when I first read about the lagoon. I loved that lagoon, full of colorful fish and a pod of playful dolphins. I’m not sure how realistic the dolphin scenes were, especially when the dolphins ganged up on a shark, but I was OK with it.
I liked Anna and T.J. Both characters seemed very mature and resourceful. There is an underlying attraction that perhaps started as a young student’s teenage crush on his tutor. But then again, throw two people together under such intense conditions and eventually something will happen. I did like how they waited until TJ was of age – I’m not sure if it was intentional or if it just happened that way. I think it was good that they waited until TJ was older. I’m not sure if I would have been comfortable with the book had they jumped into a sexual relationship right away.
I was surprised by the circumstances of their rescue. I won’t go into more details because I don’t want to spoil that moment. I did get teary-eyed and I don’t usually cry when I read.
Three and a half years later, Anna and T.J. return back to civilization. Their return is handled well. Anna and TJ’s relationship is questioned. Anna has difficulty finding work as a teacher and begins to suffer from depression. T.J. has some difficulty adjusting as well. He yearns to be with Anna. Anna worries that she and T.J. are not at the same stage in life. She wants him to experience college life. I was fascinated how these two characters coped with life at home.
Overall, On the Island was an enjoyable read. I look forward to reading more books by this author in the future.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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