Author: Sonali Deraniyagala
Review: On December 26, 2004, Sonali Deraniyagala and her family – her husband, her two sons and her parents – were vacationing at a beach resort in Sri Lanka. Lazing around their hotel room the day after Christmas, Sonali noticed the white curl of a wave, much closer than normal, out on the beach. As water kept moving closer, Sonali and her husband, Steve, grabbed their boys, Vik and Malli, and started to run. Outside the hotel, they jumped in the back of a jeep. Minutes later the jeep was pushed over, separating Sonali from her husband and young sons forever.
Wave is, as you might expect, a devastating story. Deraniyagala’s grief is palpable on every page even as it morphs over time. Although Steve, Vik and Malli are just three people among the more than the nearly 228,000 victims of the tsunami, Deraniyagala writes about them with such specificity and love that they come into a sharp focus.
Wave is not as much of a meditation on grief as, say, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Deraniyagala does write about her grieving process – her craving to end her own life, her drinking problem, her illogical harassment of the people who moved into her parent’s home – but spends more time memorializing the family she lost inexplicably in a single instant than analyzing her own feelings.
This book is not an easy read. Deraniyagala’s prose is clear and simple, but her emotions reach out from every page. She never gives an easy conclusion – it’s been five years, I’m fine now! – but does show how her grief has evolved in the seven years after the tsunami, allowing her to build a life while holding deeply to the life that was taken away. I thought this book was beautiful.
If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!