On the Island – Tracey Garvis Graves

If I were to try and describe the novel On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves in terms of popular television and movies within the last few decades it would be as the bastard child of Lost and The Blue Lagoon but that description may not do justice to the simple elegance that is this novel. Garvis Graves has managed to deftly depict a story-line which on the surface is somewhat off-putting to the vast majority of the population portraying the inevitable romance between a teenage boy and his much older tutor after they are marooned on an uninhabited island in the Indian Ocean. Visions of Mary Kay Laterno aside, On the Island is a thrilling story of survival that I finished in a single evening.

When the story opens Anna is in a relationship that is going nowhere and has taken a tutoring position in Maldives for the summer. Her prospective student T.J. is to spend the summer catching up on all the school work he missed while in cancer treatment. They miraculously survive the crash of their private plane into the ocean and are washed ashore on one of the many uninhabited islands of the Maldives.

I devoured this book, reading it at every opportunity that being said On the Island isn’t for everyone. The relationship that develops between Anna and T.J. is contentious both within and without the book. The question is what would make a romantic relationship between a woman in her third decade and a much younger man okay? Is the vaguely discomfited feeling that one has following the conclusion of the story simply hypocrisy? Would the reader be more comfortable with a male protagonist and a female fourteen years his junior? Regardless of the questions of morality On the Island is unexpectedly intriguing the reader is compelled to follow the story to its conclusion routing for not only this unlikely couples survival but their happiness together.

TITLE: On the Island

AUTHOR: Tracey Garvis Graves

RATING: 4 1/2 Stars

GENRE: Fiction

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4 thoughts on “On the Island – Tracey Garvis Graves”

  1. I, too, devoured this book. It is a quick, compelling read. I find, though, that as time passes, I am becoming more and more uncomfortable with the message it sends. On the surface, Graves covers all the bases to ensure that she doesn’t cross the line into telling a story of pedophile, but the line is murky. Surprisingly, I wasn’t so uncomfortable with their relationship on the island, but I found the ending (mild spoiler alert) to really send a heavy-handed message that the relationship was not only okay, but ideal in some respects. In reality, I would find this kind of relationship to be selfish at best, criminal at worse. This book does seem to contribute to the popular notion (see Adam Sandler’s movie “That’s my Boy”) that it’s okay for older women to sleep with teenage boys simply because they want “it” so badly. Isn’t that one of the highest forms of exploitation? The woman is older and knows better and in some respects uses a boy’s biology to get him to engage in behavior that simply isn’t in his best interest long-term. I guess, overall, I think women get more leeway than men when writing about this kind of subject, but I’m not sure they should.

  2. I just read about a book that also addresses the younger man, older woman issue. A Much Younger Man by Dianne Highbridge is about a 35 year old woman who falls for the 15-year old son of her best friend. Sounds good! Try to review that one!

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