It was the morning after Christmas 2004, on the Southern coast of Sri Lanka, when life as Sonali Deraniyagala knew it would be over. Casually looking out her hotel window, she saw a wave, and water. The water washing up to the hotel closer that she'd ever seen… She began running for her life. She, along with her husband, and two children. It was a tsunami and it was devastating. In the spam of a mere 20 minutes she lost her parents, her husband, Steve and 2 young sons, Vikram, 8, and Malli, 5.
How do you survive when everyone around you does not? How does life go on? In Wave written by Sonali Deraniyagala, the author recounts in such brutal honesty, her journey from the morning that destroyed her world to where she lands almost 8 years later. The book is honest, heartbreaking, and thought provoking. It follows Sonali's utter despair, survivors guilt, and her tumble down into prescription drugs and alcohol to a slow healing. Reading the book seems to serve as a catharsis for Sonali, as she purges her emotions onto the pages. I could feel her pain as I read. But from the depths of her pain also comes, over time, a small inner happiness as her memories morph from the cruel reminder of her loved ones to a celebration of their lives. We are able to, at that point in the book, step away from the anguish and enjoy the happy memories that make up her life.
The Lowdown… The beginning 100 pages or so were devastating to read. I wanted to put the book down because it was just so heartbreaking. I'm glad I continued because I enjoyed when Sonali was able to share her happy memories of her family. Her childhood home filled with family and laughter, her first kiss with Steve, her husband, the birth of her first child, and the children playfully teasing her in one way or another. The book flipped back and forth between the present and the past in a very natural way as memories were stirred. Her writing is lyrical, haunting, gripping.
Are we thankful for the life we are living and enjoy the people in it? If it is all gone tomorrow, what will we have? Regrets, happy memories, doubt? Wave is slim at 228 pages, but it will leave you in quiet awe.