On the Island – Tracey Garvis Graves
My good friend and fellow blogger Steph at KitchenKM isn’t a huge fan of reading fiction, so when she recommended the book On the Island I was immediately intrigued knowing her recommendation wouldn’t have come easily. The premise does sound a tad salacious, as if The Blue Lagoon was mixed with The Mary Kay Letourneau Story. 30 year old teacher Anna Emerson is going for the summer to tutor TJ Callahan in the Maldives, where his family is vacationing. TJ is 16 years old and recently in remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The two travel together to the island, and what should be an uneventful trip turns into and unplanned struggle for survival when the pilot has a heart attack the two are stranded and forced to survive on a remote island. This story of survival and what appears to be a taboo romance is handled with heart and grace. Anna is not a cougar looking for her prey, but a woman who was looking for a change in her life and ends up with more than she bargained for when she must rely on the very student she came to tutor. TJ is a teenage boy who has had to grow up fast because of his cancer, and then again when thrown into this survival situation he must face adulthood and his growing feelings for his teacher. These two people only have each other, and bond while facing dangers in their struggle to live and survive. The romance is handled over the course of time, and I think that is what softens any taboo or salaciousness of the age difference and student/teacher rolls. The relationship is not fully realized or consummated until TJ is nearly 19. This romance isn’t a quick island romp, but built out of adversity and life and death struggles that shape the bond and eventual love for each other that develops between Anna and TJ. This is a fast paced read that kept me turning pages and explores the deepening of a relationship over the course of time between characters that felt honest to me. I am glad to say my initial expectations were wrong, and I enjoyed this wonderful romance.