On the Island
by Tracey Garvis Graves
2 stars - yes, I read the whole thing (so you won't have to)
ALR Green - golden retriever arrives late in the book
What gremlin put this in my reading queue? Friends, this is possibly one of the worst books I've ever read. Heck, I would gladly have substituted another Fifty Shades of Grey book for this had I known.
Here's the setup. Thirty year old high school English teacher takes a gig to tutor 15 year old cancer boy (now in remission). Boy's parents decide to spend the summer on an island in the Maldives so that junior can focus on his studies. Plane crash. Teacher and student wash up on a deserted island. Stuff happens.
Hey, except for bad writing, dim-witted characters, implausible plot points, and "twists" that might as well have been announced on the dust jacket, not bad.
Here are some highlights (warning, contains spoilers, like that matters).
- Teacher's suitcase of necessaries washes up on shore. Phew. Good thing she packed enough baby oil, shampoo, and soap to keep two people neat and clean for three years. Oddly, she only packed two boxes of tampons because, um, why?
- Teacher shaves her legs. Yes she does. For three years because who wouldn't, right?
- Junior removes his own braces. What? Must have had those special wax on / wax off style braces because I know when mine were removed it was quite an effort. Luckily, he gets his off with no dental damage.
- They kill three (or was it four) chickens before realizing that it might make sense to keep a chicken and eat the eggs (ah, the value of a liberal arts education).
- No sex until junior is 18. Junior is OK with that, I guess. Don't want protective services swooping in.
- Let's see, you find an abandoned cabin on the island and instead of moving in, you disassemble it and rebuild it on the beach. Yeah, that makes sense.
- Finding two people bobbing around in the middle of the ocean after a tsunami that wiped out big chunks of civilized places. Sure.
- Last time you were on a plane, it crashed in the ocean and you almost died, but hopping back on board doesn't cause any twitch of anxiety. What?
- Junior almost gets eaten by a shark, but then, dolphins!
- Speaking of dolphins. You're starving to death and you never thought to eat one?
- Never did figure out that crabs come out at night, did you? Nope just had to wait around until you found one or two a year that didn't quite make it under the sand before the sun came up. Duh.
- Where did those chickens come from?
- Hey, not like I'm all about sex scenes, but the encounters in this book were so benign that these two might just as well been sitting around comparing notes on who has the stinkiest farts (in fact, that would have been more stimulating).
Well, I could go on and on, but reliving the book is hurting my brain. The author alternates narration between Teacher and Junior. Why bother? They both speak in the same voice. No way to tell them apart.
Nary a meaningful conversation or serious conflict to be found. As the years on the island go by, we only visit the characters when something "big" happens.
After their rescue, Teacher and Junior go back to temporarily live with their respective families. The only "real" part of the story was when folks started questioning whether or not they had sex before Junior was 18. Sadly, yes, I believe that would be a moral issue for some people. Get over it!
Back home, Junior and Teacher get married and live happily ever after. They even have kids, thanks to Junior's conveniently frozen sperm prior to chemotherapy. Aw, so adorable. Barf.