On The Island: A Novel

Paperback | July 10, 2012

byTracey Garvis Graves

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Two people stranded on an island struggle to survive—and slowly fall in love—in the runaway New York Times bestseller from the author of the forthcoming novel COVET.

Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher desperately in need of adventure. Worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that’s going nowhere, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer on a tropical island tutoring sixteen-year-old T.J.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to go anywhere. His cancer is in remission and he wants to get back to his normal life. But his parents are insisting he spend the summer in the Maldives catching up on all the school he missed last year.

Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahan’s summer home, and as they fly over the Maldives’ twelve hundred islands, the unthinkable happens. Their plane crashes in shark-infested waters. They make it to shore, but soon discover that they’re stranded on an uninhabited island.

At first, their only thought is survival. 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.

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From the Publisher

Two people stranded on an island struggle to survive—and slowly fall in love—in the runaway New York Times bestseller from the author of the forthcoming novel COVET.Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher desperately in need of adventure. Worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that’s going nowhere, she jumps...

Tracey Garvis Graves lives in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and hyper dog Chloe. This is her first novel. She loves hearing from her fans and can be found on Twitter @tgarvisgraves and at facebook.com/tgarvisgraves.

other books by Tracey Garvis Graves

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Covet: A Novel

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 7.99 × 5.28 × 0.74 inPublished:July 10, 2012Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:014219672X

ISBN - 13:9780142196724

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic read. Best ereader book ł have ever read. I highly recommend you read it. It has all one would want in a book. I have read it three times already and will read again. Way to go tracey ...a book with advencher love, heartbreak and most of all hope and much more.
Date published: 2015-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! This is a very fast past read. This bok it truly a heartwarming gem of a book, don't miss this read.
Date published: 2015-05-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Such a good read I love to find a book that takes me away. This is that kind of book ! It kept me up reading till the wee hours in the morning. Definitely an excellent read !
Date published: 2015-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from On the island I laughed, cried, feared for the characters and felt like I could feel all the emotions they were experiencing. Couldn't put the book down. Amazing writing. Will pass 5 his on for sure!
Date published: 2015-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An awesome read!! I'm reading it again for the second time in just a week or so. Loved it. She is now one of my favourite authors, and can't wait to start reading next in line to On The Island!!!
Date published: 2015-03-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Easy Read I enjoyed the book, it wasn't amazing and some chunks are poorly written but if you are looking for a light easy read, it is good. It got, and kept my interest.
Date published: 2015-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A+ I read it in one night, I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2014-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read it again!!! Even the 2nd time around, this book heals me captive and I could not put it down. I am so grateful for you Tracey for an amazing story. Really hoping they make a movie out of it, it would be interesting to see it on screen.
Date published: 2014-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from On the Island I loved this book! Read it in a day and a half. I laughed, I cried, I cried hard...smiled a lot and felt so close to the characters I even put faces to them. THE perfect read.
Date published: 2014-05-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really good! This book was so good. Finished it in a day. Made you think and went threw so many emotions. I recommend it.
Date published: 2014-03-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Easy, fast read but the plot can be unrealistic I read this book within a day, it was such an easy and fast read. Halfway through the book, I felt that it lacked a lot of depth and plot. One particular scenario in this book was completely unrealistic and I was literally saying aloud "Really?!" I don't want to give too much away but it involves dolphins and a shark. The complete ending was a disappointment and it left me, as a reader, a lot to think about. I didn't think this book was realistic and the whole "happy ending" was utterly predictable. 
Date published: 2014-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from On the island This book made me laugh, cry,hope. I really enjoyed this and suggest it I didn't want to put it down I read it in two sittings.
Date published: 2014-01-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from On The Island Reads like a movie of the week...predictable, but a fun read ..typical chick flick type book..great read for vacation.☺
Date published: 2014-01-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fast enjoyable read Wow, where do I even begin with this book. I really don't have that much to say about it, other than I absolutely loved it and couldn't put it down! This was such a fast read for me, I think I read the entire thing in about 5 hours. I had to force myself to go to sleep once it hit 3AM, but I just could not stop reading. I'm not sure what I was expecting from this book, but I definitely liked it more than I ever thought I would.  T.J and Anna's story was just so interesting to read about and I had to know what happened next. I didn't expect them to spend as much time on the island as they did, but I think that's what really makes this book so special. The relationship that grows between them is so intense, and again, I am beyond ecstatic that there was no ista love in this book. Their feelings towards one another took a long time to develop and I think their relationship was constructed in such a beautiful way. From first reading the synopsis I was a little bit turned off by the age difference, but at the same time I was intrigued as to how the author would handle it, and I must say that Tracey Garvis-Graves developed it fantastically.  The only reason why I did dock this book half a star was just because of the writing. It wasn't bad or anything like that, but it definitely just fell a little flat at times for me. Like I said earlier though, what makes this book special is the story and the characters themselves, and I think the writing fit the tone of the novel, but it was just the tiniest little thing that bothered me. Other than that this book was so fun to read. I was wary going into it because there was a plane crash and I hate every single thing about planes so I was worried this was going to stress me out beyond belief, but it definitely read more like a light summer read which I really enjoyed.  I really don't have anything else to say about this other than I think everyone should go read it!! I thoroughly enjoyed it and found myself smiling through the majority of the book. This really is a beautiful book and one you will not regret picking up :)
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Beach Read I can see why the reviews for this book are so high because it is a great story, I have had this book for a while now but kept putting back on my shelf when picking a new book to read. I am so glad I finally picked it up, this book was so easy to read and fast as well, I was compelled to flip the pages as fast as I could to find out what happened net. I thought the characters were so great and interesting and the growth was fantastic to read about, the story was crazy good but scary at the same time because this has happened to people before. Overall this book was so great and I would highly recommend it. :0)
Date published: 2014-01-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from On The Island Nice easy read about survival & a developing relationship. Great for vacation reading.
Date published: 2013-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great! I finished it in one day...it was amazing!
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Retired Impossible to put, once starting to read. Fantastic story.
Date published: 2013-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Retired This is a wonderful book, well written and really interesting. Young men and his babysitter stranded on a small island after a plane crush for a few years. This is a story of their survival, his coming of age and their love. I couldn't put this book down. The author did a great job making it believable and super interesting. I would say this is one of my all time favourite books.
Date published: 2013-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from On the island This is the 4th time I've read this book and I just love it!!!! Would recommend it highly to anyone who wants an uplifting read with delightful characters.
Date published: 2013-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Story From the moment I opened this story, I couldn't stop reading! It was so enjoyable and I'm upset this author has no other books out to read yet! The words are put together so perfectly that I was able to imagine myself as the main characters (and even escape to the paradise island they were on), which was incredible! It's interesting to see how the main characters learn to set everything aside (age difference, maturity level, physical appearance, etc) and bond with each other to form a whole new relationship. Later on as the story progresses, they learn that they are going to pose problems and struggle to retain what they have. Overall a beautifully crafted story that's worth a read.
Date published: 2013-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible Character Development I needed a quick weekend read and this novel seemed perfect (and it was!). I shall highly recommend any woman to carry this novel in her beach bag because it was a fun and romantic read. At first I was unsure about the relationship T.J. and Anna would eventually share and the novel being set on an uninhabited island. My doubts concerning the novel were easily erased shortly after I immersed myself into the novel. Graves did an incredible work developing the characters as well the storyline. I am now anticipating Graves next novel.
Date published: 2013-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Even Better Than I Expected! The back cover doesn't do this book justice. I looked at it and passed by 2 weeks earlier...then I read the reviews and went out and bought it immediately. I finished it in 2 days - it completely swept me off my feet! I haven't been this wrapped up in a good book in a very long time. I'm still daydreaming about it. MUST read!
Date published: 2013-07-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pretty good Easy read...complex story.
Date published: 2013-06-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow Amazing book! Great light summer read! I couldn't put it down :)
Date published: 2013-06-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from On the Island A nice story. The characters were simple and relatable. A good and easy read!
Date published: 2013-06-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Short but Pretty Sweet It was no trouble at all to get through this in less than two days on vacation. It was fast-paced, exciting, and thought-provoking. I find many of the Times Bestsellers are fairly safe bets providing it's a topic that might interest you, and really, who wouldn't be interested in wondering how you'd survive on a desert island?! All-in-all, a great little book and definitely worth a read.
Date published: 2013-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AWESOME Couldn't put it down!
Date published: 2013-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly recommended! What an amazing book. Everything about it was good: the story, the writing, even the cover was very appealing. I literally read this book in 2 days; the fastest I've read a book in years. I just couldn't put it down, not even to sleep! If you want to read a book that will keep you in suspense, make you laugh and cry and excite you all at the same time, do not hesitate to read this.
Date published: 2013-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Feel Good Book I loved this book. I tweeted the author as soon as I was done to let her know it was a job well done. It is a light, easy read. With each word I could picture myself there with Anna & TJ. I anxiously await the novella Uncharted that will see us return to Anna & TJ.
Date published: 2013-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a beautiful story. I picked up this book because of the reviews I read on it but after reading the synopsis I wasn't convinced and it sat on my shelf for weeks. When I got around to starting it, i was done the same night and was kicking myself for not reading it sooner. The story is so beautiful and non-traditional. It's amazing how the relationship between Anna and TJ evolves and I loved it from beginning to end. Absolutely recommend this read -- you'll be glad you did!
Date published: 2013-01-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Perfect Beach Read I enjoyed the story this book told. Two people, a young woman and a teenage boy, stranded on an island, learning to survive, relying on each other. I especially liked the character maturization of the young man that was stranded. He definitely started as a boy but soon became a young man beyond his years. The story deals with realistic social issues that the two people deal with upon returning to civilization in a judgmental society that condemns their loving relationship.
Date published: 2012-11-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A delightful read This would be a great vacation read. Super quick to get through and enjoyable every step of the way.
Date published: 2012-10-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 5+ STARS FANTASTIC STORY OF SURVIVAL & ULTIMATELY LOVE Gawd this left me shattered, easily one of the best books I've read this year. It's taken me ages to get a review organized because I just couldn't figure out how to write one that would do this amazing story justice. There were just so many things I loved about this; a survival story, a forbidden romance, a tropical desert isle location, action, suspense, (freakin sharks) uncertainty, heartbreak. On The Island was unputdownable from the very first page, took me on a ride that I didn't want to end and tugged at my heartstrings every step of the way. Anna and T.J's story of survival and ultimately love is fascinating, well written and not one that I'll be able to forget. Thirty year old Anna Emerson has just taken a job tutoring a wealthy family's 16 year old son for the summer. The job takes her to the Maldives, which is perfect because her current relationship is going nowhere and she wants the time away to sort out her feelings. Anna meets up wither student in the airport where they begin the long multi connection journey together. T.J Callahan is old beyond his 16 years, having just stared cancer in the face but spending his summer vacation with his family and a tutor is the last thing he wants to do even if she is kinda hot. On the last leg of their journey the pilot of their single engine plane suffers a heart attack and crash lands somewhere in the Indian Ocean. With Anna unconscious T.J manages to get them ashore and then their journey begins. For 3 1/2 years Anna and T.J struggle for survival on the deserted tropical island (think Tom Hanks in Castaway) armed only with only with items that wash up on the beach, a determination that they will be rescued and each other. Together they face insurmountable odds and with each year that passes their bond and dependence on each other only grows. A lot of other reviewers have mentioned the age factor being an issue but I never had a problem with it. I felt that their relationship took a natural progression due to their circumstances. I mean they relied on each other completely and after a time rescue and the outside world would have seemed a dream. Through uncomplicated writing and an alternating 1st person POV the author really gives us a feel for both characters. This is particularly important in T.J's case because his POV matures from boy to man, assuring the reader that there isn't anything wrong or dirty with the romance aspect. The survival side of their ordeal is also realistically portrayed and this is definitely one of those books that will make you stop and think; what would I have done in their situation? Would I have done anything differently? Would I have survived? Could I have bettered the situation? Throughout I kept having flashes of The The Blue Lagoon(especially during the shark scenes) which was an absolute favourite movie of mine as a teenager (Come on, Christopher Atkins romancing Brooke Shields in a loin cloth) this may have played a part into why I loved this book so much, well that and haven't we all had the marooned on a desert isle with a hot guy fantasy at one time or another? Other influences here were Lost and as I mentioned Cast Away. This is just a beautiful love story that until the very end I was never sure how it was going to play out. *Sigh* the epilogue. I want to thank everyone who recommended it to me and I'll be doing the same Cheers. 312jb5+
Date published: 2012-09-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A beautiful tale of survival, companionship & the love that comes out of that Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars Anna, a 30-year-old school teacher, is tired of her stagnating relationship and takes on a summer job tutoring T.J., a teenager whose cancer is in remission. T.J.’s family is already at their summer home and he is to fly in days later with Anna when their plane crashes and they struggle to survive on a deserted island. When signs of rescue are non-existent, Anna and T.J. cope with their new island life, attempting to keep their sanity and stay nourished & hydrated. When the days, weeks and months continue to pass, the pair become less teacher and student, when they start seeing each other in a different light. I absolutely adored this book. Once I finished it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. On the Island has a simple premise but an extremely compelling story. Initially, it was the title and how appropriate it was to my blog name that caught my interest but as soon as I started reading, I was immediately pulled into the narrative. This book could be like what would have happened on Lost if only two of them had survived! Told in alternating point of views, the reader is given both sides of the survival tale as the days go by. My only main issue with T.J.’s POV was his excessive use of her name. I can’t imagine that if they’re the only two people on the island that he would have used her name as frequently as he did during his chapters. Almost every other sentence out of his mouth began or ended with “Anna”. Honestly, if I was stuck on a deserted island with someone who used my name that often, I’d want to change my name! Setting that aside, Garvis-Graves lays out a beautiful tale of survival, companionship and the love that can come out of that. She tackles the subject of an older woman with a younger man with a tasteful finesse, and yet not pretending that the taboo isn’t there either. Throughout the entire book, I kept wondering if/when T.J.’s cancer would come back, what would happen if/when they were rescued and so many other variables that were so well established that either outcome could have happened at any moment. On the Island is a must-read for those who love a book with adventure, romance and the will they/won’t they type of chemistry between the characters! This, and other reviews can be found on my blog JustALilLost.com
Date published: 2012-09-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A book to get lost in! It has been a long time since I have found a book that swept me off my feet! On the Island was the just book I needed. It is a good, quick...breath taking read. I honestly read this by the pool in an afternoon. I could not put it down. Brief review - TJ and Anna are headed to the Maldives; where Anna will be tutoring TJ (who is in remission). On the way the plane crashes and TJ and Anna are left stranded. Survival mode kicks in!!! The author did a great job, TJ and Anna's story of survival kept me reading. This is the kind of book that sucks you in; and you mourn the loss when you are done! Enjoy!
Date published: 2012-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Surprised by how much I liked this book! I was surprised by how much I liked this book. I couldn't stop reading and I ended up finishing the book in one day. It was interesting to have the story told through the view point of both of the two main characters. I usually stay away from romance novels but I'm glad I read this one. Great story!
Date published: 2012-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Can't stop thinking about this book!!! I am SO in LOVE with this book. I can't stop thinking about it. (finished it in a day). First time I've cried while reading a book.. Had trouble putting it down, and when I did, I just recited everything I had read so far to my husband. I miss the characters terribly and the next time I read it (which may just have to be immediatly!) I will force myself to read it slowly. I did not expect that I would love it this much. I almost went out and bought a copy for all of my friends and family! This book took me on a whirlwind of emotions! LOVE LOVE LOVE IT. Don't miss out! A must read! :)
Date published: 2012-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What an amazing book! In nine months this debut novel became the #1 indie-published novel in North America, selling 150,000 copies in May 2012 alone, and has now been picked up by a major publisher and optioned by MGM for Hollywood ... and deservedly so! All this happened because so many people loved reading this book and told their friends, "You have GOT to read this book!" This is the first novel in the Romance category I have ever read (I'm usually a thriller / action guy) and it had me up half the night when I started reading it. It's a cliche to say I couldn't put it down, but I honestly didn't want to go to sleep. Highly, highly recommended!!
Date published: 2012-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Summer Read This novel is just destined to be on many Bestsellers lists! A fabulous survival and coming-of-age story that will have you hooked from the start. The setting, and characters are wonderful. It is rare to have a novel make you feel like you are actually stranded with the characters like this one did. I look forward to future material from this fabulous story-teller!
Date published: 2012-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Absolute Must Read! This book arrived in the stores today, and I just finished it in one four hour sitting. I was immediately engrossed in the story of Anna and T.J. getting stranded on a desert island and their struggle for survival. I won't get into plot details, because the book summary does a good job of describing the premise, but I have to say that this book is a MUST READ for anyone who loves a good story. This is an amazing debut by a self-published author, and I think that everyone should read this book, and fall in love with the characters the way that I did.
Date published: 2012-07-11
Rated out of 5 by from This book arrived in the stores today, and I just finished it in one four hour sitting. I was immediately engrossed in the story, of Anna and T.J, getting stranded on a desert island and their struggle for survival. I won't get into plot details, because the book summary does a good job of describing the premise, but I have to say that this book is a MUST READ for anyone who loves a good story. This is an amazing debut by a self-published author, and I think that everyone should read this book, and fall in love with the characters the way that I did.
Date published: 2012-07-11

Extra Content

Read from the Book

Chapter 1AnnaJune 2001I was thirty years old when the seaplane T.J. Callahan and I were traveling on crash-landed in the Indian Ocean. T.J. was sixteen, and three months into remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The pilot’s name was Mick, but he died before we hit the water.My boyfriend, John, drove me to the airport even though he was third on my list, below my mom and my sister, Sarah, of the people I wanted to take me. We fought the crowd, each of us pulling a large, wheeled suitcase, and I wondered if everyone in Chicago had decided to fly somewhere that day. When we finally reached the US Airways counter, the ticket agent smiled, tagged my luggage, and handed me a boarding pass.“Thank you, Miss Emerson. I’ve checked you all the way through to Malé. Have a safe trip.”I slipped the boarding pass into my purse and turned to say good-bye to John. “Thanks for driving me.”“I’ll walk with you, Anna.”“You don’t have to,” I said, shaking my head.He flinched. “I want to.”We shuffled along in silence, following the throng of slow-moving passengers. At the gate John asked, “What’s he look like?”“Skinny and bald.”I scanned the crowd and smiled when I spotted T.J. because short brown hair now covered his head. I waved, and he acknowledged me with a nod while the boy sitting next to him elbowed him in the ribs.“Who’s the other kid?” John asked.“I think it’s his friend Ben.”Slouched in their seats, they were dressed in the style favored by most sixteen-year-old boys: long, baggy athletic shorts, T-shirts, and untied tennis shoes. A navy blue backpack sat on the floor at T.J.’s feet.“Are you sure this is what you want to do?” John asked. He shoved his hands in his back pockets and stared down at the worn airport carpeting.Well, one of us has to do something. “Yes.”“Please don’t make any final decisions until you get back.”I didn’t point out the irony in his request. “I said I wouldn’t.”There was really only one option, though. I just chose to postpone it until the end of the summer.John put his arms around my waist and kissed me, several seconds longer than he should have in such a public place. Embarrassed, I pulled away. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed T.J. and Ben watching it all.“I love you,” he said.I nodded. “I know.”Resigned, he picked up my carry-on bag and placed the strap on my shoulder. “Have a safe flight. Call me when you get there.”“Okay.”John left and I watched until the crowd enveloped him, then smoothed the front of my skirt and walked over to the boys. They looked down as I approached.“Hi, T.J. You look great. Are you ready to go?”His brown eyes briefly met mine. “Yeah, sure.” He had gained weight and his face wasn’t as pale. He had braces on his teeth, which I hadn’t noticed before, and a small scar on his chin.“Hi. I’m Anna,” I said to the boy sitting next to T.J. “You must be Ben. How was your party?”He glanced at T.J., confused. “Uh, it was okay.”I pulled out my cell phone and looked at the time. “I’ll be right back, T.J. I want to check on our flight.”As I walked away I heard Ben say, “Dude, your babysitter is smokin’ hot.”“She’s my tutor, asshole.”The words rolled off me. I taught at a high school and considered occasional comments from hormone-riddled boys a fairly benign occupational hazard.After confirming we were still on schedule, I returned and sat in the empty chair next to T.J. “Did Ben leave?”“Yeah. His mom got tired of circling the airport. He wouldn’t let her come in with us.”“Do you want to get something to eat?”He shook his head. “I’m not hungry.”We sat in awkward silence until it was time to board the plane. T.J. followed me down the narrow aisle to our first-class seats. “Do you want the window?” I asked.T.J. shrugged. “Sure. Thanks.”I stepped to the side and waited until he sat down, then buckled in next to him. He took a portable CD player out of his backpack and put the headphones on, his subtle way of letting me know he wasn’t interested in having a conversation. I pulled a book out of my carry-on bag, the pilot lifted off, and we left Chicago behind.* * *Things started to go wrong in Germany. It should have taken a little over eighteen hours to fly from Chicago to Malé—the capital city of the Maldives—but after mechanical problems and weather delays we ended up spending the rest of the day and half the night at Frankfurt International Airport waiting for the airline to reroute us. T.J. and I sat on hard plastic chairs at 3:00 a.m. after finally being confirmed on the next flight out. He rubbed his eyes.I pointed to a row of empty seats. “Lie down if you want.”“I’m okay,” he said, stifling a yawn.“We aren’t leaving for several hours. You should try to sleep.”“Aren’t you tired?”I was exhausted, but T.J. probably needed the rest more than I did. “I’m fine. You go ahead.”“Are you sure?”“Absolutely.”“Okay.” He smiled faintly. “Thanks.” He stretched out on the chairs and fell asleep immediately.I stared out the window and watched the planes land and take off again, their red lights blinking in the night sky. The frigid air-conditioning raised goose bumps on my arms, and I shivered in my skirt and sleeveless blouse. In a nearby restroom, I changed into the jeans and long-sleeved T-shirt I’d packed in my carry-on bag, then bought a cup of coffee. When I sat back down next to T.J., I opened my book and read, waking him three hours later when they called our flight.There were more delays after we arrived in Sri Lanka—this time due to a shortage of flight crew—and by the time we landed at Malé International Airport in the Maldives, the Callahans’ summer rental still two hours away by seaplane, I had been awake for thirty hours. My temples throbbed and my eyes, gritty and aching, burned. When they said they had no reservation for us, I blinked back tears.“But I have the confirmation number,” I said to the ticket agent, sliding the scrap of paper across the counter. “I updated our reservation before we left Sri Lanka. Two seats. T.J. Callahan and Anna Emerson. Will you please look again?”The ticket agent checked the computer. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Your names are not on the list. The seaplane is full.”“What about the next flight?”“It will be dark soon. Seaplanes don’t fly after sunset.” Noticing my stricken expression, he gave me a sympathetic look, tapped his keyboard, and picked up the phone. “I’ll see what I can do.”“Thank you.”T.J. and I walked to a small gift shop, and I bought two bottles of water. “Do you want one?”“No thanks.”“Why don’t you put it in your backpack,” I said, handing it to him. “You might want it later.”I dug a bottle of Tylenol out of my purse, shook two into my hand, and swallowed them with some water. We sat down on a bench, and I called T.J.’s mom, Jane, and told her not to expect us until morning.“There’s a chance they’ll find us a flight, but I don’t think we’ll get out tonight. The seaplanes don’t fly after dark, so we may have to spend the night at the airport.”“I’m sorry, Anna. You must be exhausted,” she said.“It’s okay, really. We’ll be there tomorrow for sure.” I covered the phone with my hand. “Do you want to talk to your mom?” T.J. made a face and shook his head.I noticed the ticket agent waving at me. He was smiling. “Jane, listen I think we might—” and then my cell phone dropped the call. I put the phone back in my purse and approached the counter, holding my breath.“One of the charter pilots can fly you to the island,” the ticket agent said. “The passengers he was supposed to take are delayed in Sri Lanka and won’t get here until tomorrow morning.”I exhaled and smiled. “That’s wonderful. Thank you for finding us a flight. I really appreciate it.” I tried to call T.J.’s parents again, but my cell phone roamed without connecting. Hopefully I’d get a signal when we arrived on the island. “Ready, T.J.?”“Yeah,” he said, grabbing his backpack.A minibus dropped us off at the air taxi terminal. The agent checked us in at the counter, and we walked outside.The Maldives climate reminded me of the steam room at my gym. Immediately, beads of sweat broke out on my forehead and the back of my neck. My jeans and long-sleeved T-shirt trapped the hot, humid air against my skin, and I wished I had changed back into something cooler.Is it this sweltering all the time?An airport employee stood on the dock next to a seaplane that bobbed gently on the water’s surface. He beckoned to us. When T.J. and I reached him, he opened the door and we ducked our heads and boarded the plane. The pilot was sitting in his seat, and he smiled at us around a mouthful of cheeseburger.“Hi, I’m Mick.” He finished chewing and swallowed. “Hope you don’t mind if I finish my dinner.” He appeared to be in his late fifties and was so overweight he barely fit in the pilot’s seat. He wore cargo shorts and the largest tie-dye T-shirt I had ever seen. His feet were bare. Sweat dotted his upper lip and forehead. He ate the last bite of his cheeseburger and wiped his face with a napkin.“I’m Anna and this is T.J.,” I said, smiling and reaching out to shake his hand. “Of course we don’t mind.”The DHC-6 Twin Otter seated ten and smelled like airplane fuel and mildew. T.J. buckled himself in and stared out the window. I sat down across the aisle from him, shoved my purse and carry-on under the seat, and rubbed my eyes. Mick started the engines. The noise drowned out his voice, but when he turned his head to the side his lips moved as he communicated with someone on his radio headset. He motored away from the dock, picked up speed, and we were airborne.I cursed my inability to sleep on airplanes. I’d always envied those who passed out the minute the plane took off and didn’t wake until the wheels touched down on the runway. I tried to doze, but the sunlight streaming through the seaplane’s windows, and my confused body clock, made drifting off impossible. When I gave up and opened my eyes, I caught T.J. staring at me. If the look on his face and the heat on mine was any indication, it embarrassed us both. He turned away, shoved his backpack under his head, and fell asleep a few minutes later.Restless, I unbuckled my seat belt and went to ask Mick how long it would be until we landed.“Maybe another hour or so.” He motioned toward the copilot’s seat. “Sit down if you want.”I sat down and buckled my seat belt. Shielding my eyes against the sun, I took in the breathtaking view. The sky, cloudless and cobalt above. The Indian Ocean, a swirl of mint green and turquoise blue below.Mick rubbed the center of his chest with his fist and reached for a roll of antacids. He put one in his mouth. “Heartburn. That’s what I get for eating cheeseburgers. But they taste so much better than a damn salad, you know?” He laughed, and I nodded my head in agreement.“So, where are you two from?”“Chicago.”“What do you do there in Chicago?” He popped another antacid into his mouth.“I teach tenth-grade English.”“Ah, summers off.”“Well, not for me. I usually tutor students in the summer.” I motioned toward T.J. “His parents hired me to help him catch up with his class. He had Hodgkin’s lymphoma and he missed a lot of school.”“I thought you looked way too young to be his mom.”I smiled. “His parents and sisters flew down a few days ago.”I wasn’t able to leave as early as the Callahans because the public high school where I taught let out for summer break a few days later than the private high school T.J. attended. When T.J. found out, he convinced his parents to let him stay behind in Chicago for the weekend and fly down with me instead. Jane Callahan had called to see if it was all right.“His friend Ben is having a party. He really wants to go. Are you sure you don’t mind?” she asked.“Not at all,” I said. “It will give us a chance to get to know each other.”I’d only met T.J. once, when I interviewed with his parents. It would take a while for him to warm up to me; it always did when I worked with a new student, especially a teenage boy.Mick’s voice interrupted my thoughts. “How long are you staying?”“For the summer. They rented a house on the island.”“So he’s okay now?”“Yes. His parents said he was pretty sick for a while, but he’s been in remission for a few months.”“Nice location for a summer job.”I grinned. “It beats the library.”We flew in silence for a while. “Are there really twelve hundred islands down there?” I asked. I’d only counted three or four, scattered across the water like giant puzzle pieces. I waited for his answer. “Mick?”“What? Oh, yes, give or take a few. Only about two hundred are inhabited, but I expect that to change with all the development going on. There’s a new hotel or resort opening every month.” He chuckled. “Everybody wants a piece of paradise.”Mick rubbed his chest again and took his left arm off the control yoke, stretching it out in front of him. I noticed his pained expression and the light sheen of sweat on his forehead. “Are you okay?”“I’m fine. I’ve just never had heartburn this bad before.” He put two more antacids in his mouth and crumpled the empty wrapper.An uneasy feeling washed over me. “Do you want to call someone? If you show me how to use the radio I can call for you.”“No, I’ll be fine once these antacids start working.” He took a deep breath and smiled at me. “Thank you, though.”He seemed okay for a while, but ten minutes later he took his right hand off the yoke and rubbed his left shoulder. Sweat trickled down the side of his face. His breathing sounded shallow, and he shifted in his seat as if he couldn’t find a comfortable position. My uneasy feeling blossomed into sheer panic.T.J. woke up. “Anna,” he said, loud enough for me to hear him over the engines. I turned around. “Are we almost there?”I unbuckled and went back to sit beside T.J. Not wanting to shout, I pulled him closer and said, “Listen, I’m pretty sure Mick’s having a heart attack. He has chest pains and he looks awful, but he’s blaming it on heartburn.”“What! Are you serious?”I nodded. “My dad survived a major heart attack last year, so I know what to watch for. I think he’s scared to admit there’s something wrong.”“What about us? Can he still fly the plane?”“I don’t know.”T.J. and I approached the cockpit. Mick had both fists pressed against his chest and his eyes were closed. His headset sat askew and his face had taken on a grayish cast.I crouched down next to his seat, fear rippling through me. “Mick.” My tone was urgent. “We need to call for help.”He nodded. “I’m going to put us down on the water first and then one of you will have to get on the radio,” he gasped, trying to get the words out. “Put on life jackets. They’re in the storage compartment by the door. Then get in your seats and buckle in.” He grimaced in pain. “Go!”My heart thundered in my chest and adrenaline flooded my body. We rushed to the storage compartment and rifled through it.“Why do we have to put on life jackets, Anna? The plane has floats, right?”Because he’s afraid he might not get us out of the air in time.“I don’t know, maybe it’s standard operating procedure. We’re landing in the middle of the ocean.” I found the life jackets wedged between a cylinder-shaped container that said LIFE RAFT and several blankets. “Here,” I said, handing one to T.J. and putting mine on. We sat down and fastened our seat belts, my hands shaking so badly it took me two tries.“If he loses consciousness I’ll need to start CPR immediately. You’ll have to figure out the radio, T.J., okay?”He nodded, his eyes wide. “I can do that.”I gripped the armrests of my seat and watched out the window, the rolling surface of the ocean growing closer. But then instead of slowing we picked up speed, descending at a steep angle. I glanced toward the front of the plane. Mick was slumped over the yoke, not moving. I unbuckled my seat belt and lunged into the aisle.“Anna,” T.J. yelled. The hem of my T-shirt slipped through his grasp.Before I could reach the cockpit, Mick jerked backward in his seat, his hands still on the yoke, as a massive spasm racked his chest. The nose of the plane pulled up sharply and we hit the water tail first, skipping erratically across the waves. The tip of a wing caught the surface and the plane cartwheeled out of control.The impact knocked me off my feet, as if someone had tied a rope around my ankles and yanked it hard. The sound of shattering glass filled my ears, and I had the sensation of flying followed by searing pain as the plane broke apart.I plunged into the ocean, seawater pouring down my throat. I was completely disoriented, but the buoyancy of my life jacket lifted me slowly upward. My head broke the surface, and I coughed uncontrollably, trying to get the air in and the water out.T.J.! Oh God, where is T.J.?I pictured him trapped in his seat, unable to get his seat belt unbuckled, and I scanned the water frantically, squinting in the sun and screaming his name. Just when I thought he had certainly drowned, he surfaced, choking and sputtering.I swam toward him, tasting blood, my head throbbing so hard I thought it might explode. When I reached T.J., I grabbed his hand and tried to tell him how happy I was that he made it, but my words wouldn’t come out right and I drifted in and out of a hazy fog.T.J. yelled at me to wake up. I remember high waves and swallowing more water, and then I remember nothing at all.