Book Review and Giveaway: On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

I am almost “speechless” to type this review because you all KNOW how much I love to read. And you all KNOW how much I love to read good, quality contemporary fiction. A lot of the books I’ve recommended in the past have been bestsellers that I’ve gradually gotten around to reading, as I make my way through library holds (and the library drama that ensues). Books like Room by Emma Donoghue, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, Long Drive Home by Will Allison, A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron, Night Road by Kristin Hannah.

I love a good book.

On the Island was a fantastic book.

I took a break from reading when I had butt surgery because I was in so much pain and then I was on so many drugs, I could not have paid attention to a plot if I tried. But after two weeks, I decided to try. And I looked on my Kindle for a highly-reviewed book — I trust reviews from my fellow readers — and I found On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves.


From reviews, I deduced the plot as: plane crash. 16yo student and 30yo tutor/teacher. Stranded on island for years. Narrative goes back and forth between T.J. (student) and Anna (teacher/tutor).

I inferred: They eventually hook up. They eventually get off the island.

Thankfully, the reviewers have kept pretty quiet about what happens on and off the island. And I’m not going to share a lot about that either. They learn to live on the island, finding water, starting and maintaining a fire, building a shelter — and battling the conditions. Which include storms, hungry bats, mosquitos, broken bones and illness. T.J. is a cancer survivor — he was supposed to receive summer tutoring from Anna because he’d missed school due to his illness. An emergency supply kit washes up that includes Tylenol and Benadryl. The island has a dry season. And a shark. They occasionally find a crab to eat. Nobody comes to rescue them.

At first, the chapters go day-by-day, but eventually weeks and months pass between chapters. They survive for years. And eventually, as T.J. becomes a man, they… well, you can guess what happens. Although, hand to goddess, it’s not icky, pervy, porny or gross. (And I’m very sensitive, after reading 50 Shades a few times.)

On the Island could have been REALLY cliched. It could have been 50 Shades of Lost, as my friend Amanda referred to it, when I told her I’d just finished a great book, and what it was about. (She hasn’t read it yet, I bet she changes her mind.)

Credit: Flickr/Mr.Dionysos

But it wasn’t cliched. It was incredibly anxiety-provoking — it seems like every horrible thing that you imagine could happen when you’re stranded on a deserted island, does in fact happen — and deeply moving. I had tears in my eyes during several scenes. It was thoughtful, well-written (REALLY well-written; I was totally shocked to discover that the author is just a woman who decided to write a book. It’s pitch-perfect), and deeply engrossing. Extremely difficult to put down. I read it all in one night, then went back the next day and re-read it, as slowly as I could.

I don’t want to rave too much, lest there’s so much build-up that you all hate it, but based on all the reviews, I can’t imagine anyone could NOT like this book. I consider myself a tough critic, and this book never missed a step.

Being totally obnoxious engaging, I contacted the author to let her know how much I’d enjoyed her book. She thanked me very graciously — and then offered to send me a signed copy of the paperback for a reader! How nice is that?!?!?!?

So, while I urge you all to download it on your e-reader — and the price is $2.99, which is extremely reasonable! I’ve downloaded more expensive books that were terrible! — I also urge you to enter this giveaway for a signed paperback copy. Just leave a comment at the end of this post, and you’ll get a  comment number. On my birthday, May 23, I’ll pick a number from the random number generator website. Screenshot will be included.

After the giveaway, I’ll post a F.A.Q of questions that Tracey, the author, has kindly answered for me, despite the fact that she’s probably answered them from a million other people and is hard at work on her next two books.


38 Responses

  1. Okay, well now that I have been name-checked in a post (so cool!) I am going to bust out and order my Kindle copy:-) I am 50 Shades of curious and wouldn’t want to be Lost on any further discussions…

  2. I want to win it! I almost always like the books you recommend. (Just not when they’re Twilight, or marketed as Twilight for Grownups.)

  3. When I read a book, I ignore all household chores and go on lots of walks with baby where people must strategically walk around the mom with a book in her face until I finish it. Maybe that next book will be this one! Lucky number 3!

  4. I needed another good book. Thank you for the review!

  5. Ooh, ohh, pick me!

  6. I’d also love to win this book!! I do not have a kindle so any books I download are on my I-Phone – I use it when I don’t have an actual book to hold and read. I also usually enjoy books you’ve recommended. I haven’t read Night Road by Kristen Hannah but am going to be reading another book by Hannah called Firefly Lane this summer with my Mom’s book Club.

  7. I would love to win this book. I’ve enjoyed all of the books you have recommended on your blog. I don’t have time to read book reviews to find books to read, so you are like my personal library guide. 🙂

  8. I read Room based off of one of your blog posts. and A Discovery of Witches I think. So I am interested. Thanks.

  9. I absolutely LOVED this book!! Hope to win a copy!!

  10. A signed, hard-copy version of this book!?!?!?!? Oh my gosh, that would be so great! I’ve been singing praises of this book to all of my co-workers (I work in a school library, so word is spreading through the whole school district right now). This was the best book I’ve read in a while. You know, the kind where you are drying your hair in the morning with your head upside-down and your Kindle is on the bathroom counter so you can read every word you can before leaving for work? Yeah, that kind!!!!

    • I might have balanced it precariously on top of a laundry basket I was carrying while walking downstairs, so I didn’t have to stop reading.

      • I soooo wanted to call in sick to finish the book!!! But responsibility got the better of me, what can you do???

  11. My friends have raved about On the Island. I cannot wait to read it.

  12. I loved this book too! Would love for Tracey to go on a book signing tour so that we all could get a signed copy but I’ll take on any way I can get it….so I hope I’m picked!

  13. Great review. I would love to have a signed copy. Also can’t wait for her next book to cone out!

  14. Since I’m the only one left who still reads actual paper books, count me in!

    • No, Heather, I still read physical books and always will…..but my husband and daughter bought me a Kindle anyway and I only took it to our beach condo to satisfy them and used it to make them happy. But glad I did cause that’s how I cam across On The Island but I’m definitely buying the book as well just to have. I guess you and I are true book “nerds”.

  15. Completely agree with your review. The book was amazing!

  16. I would love to win! Thanks for the chance!

    lzamudio02 @ hotmail .com

  17. Sounds like a fun book!

  18. I would love to win!! Thanks for the chance.

  19. I read this last night (could not put it down), and today am just going through reading reviews seeing how others liked it. I have been recommending it left and right, and wondered if I’m building it up too much or if others feel the same…your review is spot on! I, too, emailed the author – I wanted her to know how incredible the book was! Thanks for letting me enter your contest. 🙂

  20. Maybe I’ll actually win this time. I was sad to have missed out on the fish 😉

  21. Just discovered your blog…LOVE it! Thanks for making me laugh – not at your life, but at mine!

  22. I have “On the Island” on my Nook and I also have a hard copy (graciously signed by TGG) on my bookshelf, so please don’t put me in the drawing. I just wanted to say thank you for loving this book. It is one of my all time favorite reads and not only because TGG is my friend and I love her but because I love the book. I actually have read it many times and every time get something new out of the story. I can’t wait to read your FAQ for Tracey. BTW, she does have a blog at and she is HILARIOUS! Read through the years and you will not only learn about her obsession with “Crack Dip,” (try it, you will make it for every occasion and sometimes just for you) but about her lovely neighbors she has nicknamed Yoda and the Walrus.

    • Awesome! We’ve been emailing and she cracks me up. I feel the same about On the Island — I’ve read it probably four times now. T.J. gets a little more detailed every time I read it. Anna stays pretty steady. I find that I do slow down and speed up at certain parts. I hope you enjoy the rest of my blog!

  23. […] it much thought, relegating it to the role of brief interlude between amazing works of literature. (On the Island; A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard; another round of 50 Shades.) And yet, somewhere around page 100, […]

  24. I downloaded a copy. I couldn’t wait and ‘maybe’ win. I haven’t done a lot of reading since having my daughter six years ago, but I had prepped (read oodles of books while pregnant knowing time for books was fading).
    I am very impressed with your ability to homeschool, raise five kids AND read so many books. I, unfortunately, turn into a complete monster if I do not get a plentiful amount of sleep. Since I do not prefer my ‘monster momma’ self I sleep a whole lot more than I read.

  25. Happy birthday you….for tomorrow. I love her blog too…..will download it if I dont win it!!!!

  26. I have to admit; your review does make the book sound interesting =)

  27. I was thinking I entered already but I guess not. I’d love to win. It would give me a reason to try and figure out reading time again.

  28. I’m only reading three books right now, being it on!

  29. Happy (early) Birthday! Thinking I might have to get the book either way…

  30. I trust you when it comes to books (with the exception of 50 Shades, but that COULD just be because I’m menopausal and currently pretty blah about sex), so I’d love to read this. I also want to check out some of the others you mentioned. I really enjoyed Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, and What You Have Left by Will Allison was okay (super depressing), but haven’t read the books you mentioned yet. Thanks for the recommendations!

  31. […] authors was with my friend Tracey’s book On the Island. Perhaps you’ve heard me mention it before? I trust my fellow readers to know when a book is good, and On the Island had incredibly positive […]

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