On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

    • ISBN-13: 9780142196724
    • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
    • Publication date: 7/10/2012
    • Pages: 336
    • Source: From Publisher for Review


Two people stranded on an island struggle to survive—and slowly fall in love—in the runaway New York Timesbestseller, now available with a reading group guide and a letter from the author

Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher desperately in need of adventure. Worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that’s going nowhere, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer on a tropical island tutoring sixteen-year-old T.J.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to go anywhere. His cancer is in remission and he wants to get back to his normal life. But his parents are insisting he spend the summer in the Maldives catching up on all the school he missed last year.

Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahan’s summer home, and as they fly over the Maldives’ twelve hundred islands, the unthinkable happens. Their plane crashes in shark-infested waters. They make it to shore, but soon discover that they’re stranded on an uninhabited island.

At first, their only thought is survival. 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.

My Thoughts:

I was a bit skeptical about On the Island when I first read the blurb.  I was really just not sure that I was going to be able to connect with the characters, I mean a 30 year old woman and a 16 year old boy, it just felt very unlikely.  So I was very surprised when it captured my attention and I didn’t want to put the book down.  It starts with Anna, a tutor, leaving with her pupil, T.J., headed to a foreign island for the summer.  T.J. is recovering from cancer was was behind in school so his parents hire Anna to help get him caught up over the summer. The trip to meet the family keeps being delayed and they catch a seaplane that is not originally on the plan just to get there after more than 24 hours of travel.  Their pilot suffers a heart attack and they crash into the ocean.  After a very dramatic scene of survival, they find themselves alone on a island with nothing.  Some of their belongs wash up on short but after one plane flies over there is nothing.  The story of their life on the island is outstanding.  The writing is believable and powerful.  It takes a while before the romance starts between them and it starts in a very believable way and grows from there.  There is some problems with the timeline as to how long they are actually on the island but by my count it is about three and a half year.  You can only imagine how hard it would be to survive that long and the hope that you would lose along the way.  I was left wondering how or when they would be discovered and it was in a way that I never expected.  I was so surprised but that is for you to find out when you pick this book up.  Once they are rescued and go back home they both say they will stay together but life is not that easy.  There is a lot of press and Anna takes a lot of press for her relationship with T.J.  For a while this separates them but there has to be a chance that love will prevail.  

As a debut book, this was much better than what I have come to expect from first time authors.  I know that Tracey Garvis Graves went through a lot to get her book in print to learn more check out her story.

My Rating:

4 Penguins

Review: That Summer by Sarah Dessen

That Summer by Sarah Dessen: Book CoverThat Summer by Sarah Dessen

            • Pub. Date: May 2004
            • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
            • Format: Paperback , 224pp
            • Sales Rank: 23,649
            • Age Range: Young Adult
            • Source: RAK Gift
            • ISBN-13: 9780142401729
 That Summer Synopsis:

For fifteen-year-old Haven, life is changing too quickly. She’s nearly six feet tall, her father is getting remarried, and her sister&150the always perfect Ashley&150is planning a wedding of her own. Haven wishes things could just go back to the way they were. Then an old boyfriend of Ashley’s reenters the picture, and through him, Haven sees the past for what it really was, and comes to grips with the future.


During the summer of her divorced father’s remarriage and her sister’s wedding, fifteen-year-old Haven comes into her own by letting go of the myths of the past.
My Thoughts:
I love Sarah Dessen’s writing style and how she communicates the message of the book.  As with previous books that I have read by Sarah Dessen, That Summer meet the expectations I have for this author.  A story about a girl, Haven, who is too tall in her opinion and everything in her life is changing and she doesn’t know how to deal with it.  It is hard to imagine that one girl could go through so many changes in one short summer, her dad is getting remarried to the Weather Pet, who broke up her parent’s marriage, her older sister is also getting married, she keeps growing taller and taller and her best friend comes back from 4-H camp a changed person who Haven can’t seem to relate too.  In this middle of all of this, Haven runs into one of her sister’s ex-boyfriends, Sumner.  Haven always liked him the best and he seems to always be there for her just when she needs him.
This is a great story about too much change in a short amount of time and how to come to terms with us.  I think everyone beyond this age looks back and knows the exactly period of time when their life changed from being that young teen/adult to facing the real world and all of the challenges that go along with it.  It was great to see Haven grow and her self realizations change as the story moves along.  This is a great book for a teen who has lots going on in their life.  Or anyone who went through it.  It made me think about this time in my own life and how I dealt with it.
My Rating

Review: Sunset Bridge by Emilie Richards

 Sunset Bridge by Emilie Richards: Book CoverSunset Bridge by Emilie Richards

          • Pub. Date: June 2011
          • Publisher: Mira
          • Format: Paperback , 512pp

Sunset Bridge Synopsis:

Former socialite Tracy Deloche has nothing to her name but five ramshackle beach cottages and the unlikely friendships she’s formed with her tenants. Wanda, wise waitress turned popular pie-shop owner. Janya, the young Indian wife whose arranged marriage surprises her every day. Alice, a widow raising her complex tween-age granddaughter. And Maggie, Wanda’s daughter, a former Miami cop with a love life as complicated as Tracy’s own.

The new man in Tracy’s life hasn’t mentioned love or commitment— and Tracy has just discovered she’s pregnant. Janya longs to be a mother—and suddenly has two young siblings in her care. Maggie helps out at Wanda’s Wonderful Pies…but is the kitchen big enough for both Gray women? And Alice may lose her beloved granddaughter to someone no one expected….

As a tropical storm brews, the wind carries surprises and secrets over the bridge to Happiness Key. Now, more than ever, five friends will discover just how much they need one another.

My Thoughts:

What an expected find!  There was something about the cover of Sunset Bridge that drew me in when this book arrived in the mail.   I had just finished something else and even though I had other plans this book ended up at the very top of my reading pile.  I am glad that I made this decision.

I enjoyed this story of unlikely friends brought together by living on this little Key in home that seem to be just perfect for each of them.  All of them are faced with such challenging stages on life.  My heart went out immediately to Janya, who is in love with her husband despite they arranged marriage and despite everything they have tried they are unable to conceive a child.  Little do they know in a bizarre twist of events they have two young children living with them in their small space.  The other character that I was able to identify with immediately was Tracy, who find out that she is expecting a child compeltely unexpectedly and is struggling with what she is going to tell the father, because she is not sure where he really stands on their relationship and has a child from a previous relationship.  I was able to connect with her emotions, stronger by the day.

What I enjoyed about Sunset Bridge is that was just as much about the story line with their lives intertwined and crazy going on all over the place as their friendship and relationships with each other.  Emilie Richards does a wonderful job of building well balanced characters that don’t get in the way of the story yet as we learn more about one person the story morphs and changes to incorporate that person.  While the first few chapters were a bit slow for me once I got into the meat of the story I was captivated and had a really hard time putting the book down.  I needed to know what was going to happen with each of these women.  I never expected the book to take the turns that it did.  I was impressed with Emilie Richards ability to keep me in the dark and wow me with the ending of the story.

My Rating:

4 Penguins – I enjoyed the women and their interaction and the basis for the story.  This is one I would recommend as a change of pace in a good way!