Every summer, I gravitate toward at least one light beach read, but I don’t typically select Romance novels. On the Island caught my attention when a library user asked for it at the reference desk months before the print edition became available; the e-book had already become a bestseller.
Initially, I suspected it as a controversial storyline with a potentially inappropriate romance between an attractive female teacher and the sixteen-year old boy she is to tutor at his wealthy family’s vacation home on a Maldives island.
My verdict is that the romantic relationship is handled tastefully and might even be considered a soft read (although I haven’t read enough in the Romance genre to judge authoritatively). There are interesting details about the characters and the plot that make this page-turner far more than a teenage boy’s “hot-for-teacher” fantasies come true. T.J. recently survived cancer, Anna is not a sexual predator, and the two develop their strong friendship and survival bond long before any romance ensues. You’ll have to read the book to find out how long they are on the island and whether or not they act on the attraction as mutually consenting adults.
The student and his tutor leave Chicago together, flying later than the rest of the family, and experience delays that result in a last-minute chance to fly on an unscheduled chartered seaplane. They are the sole survivors washed up on an uninhabited island after their obese pilot dies of a heart attack and crashes in the Indian Ocean. Some unbelievable coincidences seemed contrived to conveniently benefit the stranded castaways’ chances of survival, but I enjoyed the book without worrying over them too much.
On the Island is safely a fun novel that can be read in a single beach day or weekend. Reading about this novel helped me learn a new word: robinsonade, a genre label for desert-island fiction named after Robinson Crusoe, of course.
Check the WRL catalog for On the Island.