books: Wave by Sonali Deraniyagal


Fresh off of watching The Impossible, my mother suggested Wave to me.  I picked it up thinking I would finally have some time to read it on my vacation, but how I didn’t realize reading a book about a woman’s account of losing her entire family while on vacation probably wasn’t the best idea, I will blame on Mummy brain.  And yes, Mummy brain will continue to be my excuse probably until my child is in high school.

Wave is a memoir; but so much more than a memoir.  It’s raw.  It’s real.  It’s absolutely heartbreaking.

Deraniyagal was on a typical Christmas vacation in Sri Lanka, the country she was raised, when the tsunami hit and the ocean swallowed her family up (her mother, father, husband and two sons) only to spit her out and leave her to live the rest of her days without them.

“I’d never heard shrieking like this before.  So wild, wretched, it frightened me, rattled the wall I was holding on to.  This noise was crackling into the numbness in my head.  It was blasting the smallest stir of hope in my heart.  It was telling me that what had happened was unthinkable, but I didn’t want this confirmed.  Not by wailing strangers, I did not.”

Although the book opens with a recounting of the horrific event, it quickly moves to a painfully honest telling of her struggle to mentally come back to life.  Her refusal to go back to her family’s home in London, her abuse of pills and alcohol, her stalking of the new family that moved into her parent’s old home.  The more you read the more you feel.  The more you understand that you can’t really understand.  The weight of that amount of loss – as a reader is at times to hard to bare.  Imagine if that was your truth?

And that’s all I could do as I quickly turned the pages.  I can’t imagine what I would do if I lost a single member of my family, not to mention EVERY member of my family….

If there’s something that this book does for you as a reader, it’s that it forces you to take pause.  To be grateful.  To be present.  To be thankful for your life and for those you are fortunate enough to share it with.






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