A brave, intimate, beautifully crafted memoir by a survivor of the tsunami that struck the Sri Lankan coast in 2004 and took her entire family.
On December 26, Boxing Day, Sonali Deraniyagala, her English husband, her parents, her two young sons, and a close friend were ending Christmas vacation at the seaside resort of Yala on the south coast of Sri Lanka when a wave suddenly overtook them. She was only to learn later that this was a tsunami that devastated coastlines through Southeast Asia. When the water began to encroach closer to their hotel, they began to run, but in an instant, water engulfed them, Sonali was separated from her family, and all was lost. Sonali Deraniyagala has written an extraordinarily honest, utterly engrossing account of the surreal tragedy of a devastating event that all at once ended her life as she knew it and her journey since in search of understanding and redemption. It is also a remarkable portrait of a young family's life and what came before, with all the small moments and larger dreams that suddenly and irrevocably ended.
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2013
: In an unblinking act of storytelling, Sonali Deraniyagala ruthlessly chronicles the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami that horrifically snatched from her all that mattered. Throughout this fierce and furious book, I kept wondering how someone who lost so much could write about it with such power, economy and grace. At first, she shrieks and grieves openly, angrily; for years she remains stunned and staggered, shamed by “the outlandish truth of me.” Then, slowly, she allows herself to remember, sharing vivid glimpses of her past. We see, hear, and smell two rowdy little boys, their brotherly scuffling, their muddy shoes and grass stains. By confronting and recreating moments that make us laugh and weep, we accept their absence and root for the author not to quit. Difficult to describe, tricky to recommend, this is a bold and wondrous book.
In a wounded voice that manages to convey the snide, sarcastic, funny, and fatalistic personality that survives beneath the pain, Deraniyagala slowly pieces together the elements that represent the life--the lives--she lost. And she brings them back. For us, for her, for them. So brave, so beautiful, in these pages Deraniyagala’s family is brilliantly alive. And so is she. --Neal Thompson