We first meet thirty year old Anna Emerson as she is being dropped at the airport by her boyfriend of 8 eight years. A teacher, she's decided to take a tutoring position with a family that will take her to the Maldive Islands for the summer. She's hoping to use the time to make some major life decisions... see, she's ready to take the next step with her boyfriend, marriage and children, but he's not.
Sixteen year old T.J. Callahan missed his last year of school due to a diagnosis of cancer. Instead of being held back a year, his parents decide to take him to the island where Anna can tutor him and get him up to speed.
Unfortunately, making it to the island isn't in the cards for these two. On the final flight of their trip, their pilot suffers a massive heart attack and the small plane they are in crashes into the Indian Ocean. When they finally make it to land, it's to an uninhabited island and Anna and T.J. struggle to make do.
The obstacles these two encounter are a test of their strength and will to survive and as weeks turn into months, they may have given up on being rescued, but they never give up on each other.
I fell in love with the characters that Garvis-Graves has created. T.J. especially. This almost seventeen year old has gone through hell and is on his way back when his entire world crashes around him. But he doesn't wallow... instead he figures out a way to keep going. And the bond that formed between he and Anna made my heart beat a little extra fast. The transformation of him as a character was amazing to watch and then to see it through Anna's eyes was even better.
By then, I knew if we were ever rescued, T.J. would have to be a part of my life in Chicago. In what capacity, I didn't know. He'd missed so much, and it wouldn't be fair of me to take up too much of his time. The selfish part of me, however, couldn't fathom not falling asleep in his arms or being with him every day. I needed T.J., and the thought of being away from him bothered me more than I wanted to admit.
The book is told in alternating first person points of view from Anna and T.J. and their relationship builds and develops slowly over the time they are together. To be honest, I often forgot T.J.'s age in this story. At some point I really only saw him as the man that he had become.
"I've been in love with you for months. I'm telling you now because I think you love me too, Anna. You just don't think you're supposed to. You'll tell me when you're ready. I can't wait." I pulled her mouth down to mine and kissed her when it ended, I smiled and said, "Happy birthday."
BUT knowing that a big issue here was the age difference between the two I was waiting for the ax to fall, and fall it does. (just want to stress that he is of consenting age by the time anything happens) I won't lie about that, but it happens in an honest and real way.
This book has a bit of everything... the survival aspects weren't shorted at all. The romance was sweet and real, and you will fall in love with these characters.
Definitely go give this a read- you won't be able to put it down once you start.
Also - I just read that MGM has optioned the film rights for this! I can't wait to see the end result!
Think... LOST and The Beach... and your favorite romance, all rolled up into one. On the Island had a survivalist aspect that I have NEVER encountered before and it was amazing. The only part of this book that caused me to react negatively was TJ and Anna's relationship... when the two meet, she is thirty and he's sixteen and I couldn't let it go at first. But the two characters grow up so I didn't feel like I was reading a story about a teacher preying on her student.