When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family’s summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day. T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He’s almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn’t bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family – and a stack of overdue assignments – instead of his friends.
Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.’s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island.
Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter. Their basic needs might be met 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.
Before I had even started this book I had my doubts, how can an entire book about two people on an island possibly be any good?! Well now I can say there is a lot you can write about two people stranded on an island together and Tracey did the most spectacular job of making this such a good read. When you can’t wait to read more you know you’re onto a winner!
Anna and T.J are characters that you begin to connect with instantly, for a moment in my mind I think I was actually living on that island with them!
Once the characters started to develop more of a relationship on the island I wasn’t sure it was ‘right’ there is almost 13 years between them. It’s also interesting to have a story where the woman is the older one of the relationship. I actually liked this about the book as it was a different to most stories with an age difference where it is usually a young woman with an older man.
The relationship between Anna and T.J started with her strictly telling him he could not look while she changed and he could not touch her, anything that would be seen as ‘wrong’ in the real world still counted. In the beginning, it was very much adult and child until they had been on the island so long together and created such a strong bond that eventually none of that mattered and the last thing that mattered on the island was their age after spending so much time together.
This book makes you realise how easy we have it with so many things at our convenience that we take them for granted, I can only imagine a life like they have on the island and how hard it would be, yet it is this that allows them to form such a strong bond.
One of my favourite silly lines from the book is “You named the chicken, Chicken?” as it just made me giggle and is the sort of silly thing I would do!
Reading this book I really connected with the characters, it was light-hearted and witty with just the right amount of serious. Overall I would not hesitate to recommend this book to someone, its a nice short story that’s relaxing to read and keeps you engaged through to the end. You might find you don’t put the book down until you’ve finished!