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Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

Wave (2013)

by Sonali Deraniyagala

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Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
I feel guilty for not liking this more, but there it is. If the book had ended on page 18, where the author scorns a surviving kid for living only because he was fat, I'd call it a minor masterpiece. After that, it seems to lack direction. The book is also filled with run-ons, as in, "I thought it unbecoming, other mothers and aunts didn't get so hysterical surely," "That's all I could tolerate, my focus was on our boys and Steve," "Malli was her hope, he understood glamour and flair," "But now here I am in the home I lived in as a child, I am more open to glimpses of what a gloriously happy time it was." There's one of these on almost every page and I found them distracting.

It also feels very much like it was written by a posh academic--which, of course, it was. The problem with that, at least for me, was that the grief never felt raw or real. I felt like I was at a conference. By the end of the book, I couldn't remember much about it. I didn't mind its lack of resolution or that the author never "moves on," but I found her manner more and more precious as the book continued. I kept comparing it to C. S. Lewis's A Grief Observed, which is a minor masterpiece. Read that one instead.

Postscript: Thinking about this in my car the other day, I was trying to articulate to myself why Wave struck me as it did. I think it has to do with the idea that the author believes in nothing outside of herself. There's no big questions, no philosophical speculation on the causes or nature of suffering...just her. ( )
  Stubb | Aug 28, 2018 |
rabck from GoryDetails; very little about the Tsunami, it's more reminiscent of Didion's Year of Magical Thinking. The authors husband, sons and parents all perished in the Tsunami wave, and she is the lone survivor. A lot of "magical thinking" as she comes to terms with losing her family in her home country on a vacation, and picking up the pieces of her life in England without them. ( )
  nancynova | Sep 3, 2017 |
This was a pick-up at my favorite independent bookstore last weekend. I found it engrossing in the beginning, although I struggled to finish it. Not because it was bad, or even too heavy. I think I was just easily distracted.

Wave is Dr. Sonali Deraniyagala’s story about her life after the 2004 tsunami that wracked Southeast Asia. She was visiting a resort town in her native Sri Lanka with her parents, husband, and two sons. She was the only one to survive the tsunami.

Each section of this book follows a timeline, from the moment just before the tsunami hit through 2012, when Dr. Deraniyagala is teaching in New York City. It is heartbreaking at times (obviously), but it doesn’t feel like any other book of loss I’ve read. I think part of that is due to the fact that the book continues over so many years; it isn’t just about her first year of trying to get through the pain; it is about how her life has changed and how it hasn’t. It’s about how she is honest with herself but not honest with strangers when it comes to that part of her life.

I am having trouble describing the feelings the book brought up in me. This wasn’t about a ‘triumphant journey of unimaginable tragedy,’ this was instead a look into the life of one individual dealing with loss on a very large scale. Yet it’s often confined to chapters of the author unwilling to leave her room, or the house she is in, or the city she is in.

There is no one moment where she rises up and ‘moves on,’ instead the book serves as a way for Dr. Deraniyagala to both share the story of her life since 2012, and also share who her sons and husband were. There are stories of Dr. Deraniyagala contemplating suicide in a very matter-of-fact manner, but there are also stories about how much her son Vik loved blue whales. It’s both a love letter to her family and a way to let the world know a little bit about what it is like for someone to work through loss on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis.

I think this is a book worth reading. I appreciate that it wasn’t as simplistic as some of the memoirs I’ve read; Dr. Deraniyagala shares the reality of loss in a way I haven’t read before. I don’t know if it would be helpful for someone who has lost a child or partner, but I can see it providing some confirmation that grief manifests in myriad ways, and that’s just how it is. ( )
1 vote ASKelmore | Jul 9, 2017 |
One day in a life can change everything for a person. It happened to Sonali Deraniyagala in 'Wave'. In this small space there is no way to recount her grief process. The book is true. Her experience is unforgettable. ( )
  Topazshell | May 2, 2017 |
really sad ( )
  NicolineA | Jan 12, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
This is possibly the most moving book I have ever read about grief, but it is also a very, very fine book about love. For grief is the black hole that is left in our lives when we lose someone irreplaceable – a child, a parent, a lover. It is the negative image that, in its blackness, sometimes reveals love with a greater clarity than its positive counterpart. And while in Wave love reveals itself by the bleak intensity of the pain of absolute, irreplaceable loss, it is in the end a love story, and a book about the importance of love.
It is a nightmarish tale of what happened that desperate day and the desolation and rage that followed. At times, Deraniyagala’s honesty shocks.
added by Nickelini | editthe Telegraph, Beth Jone (Mar 26, 2013)
The word “brave” is used a lot to describe those who write about their deepest traumas — too often, I think — but it’s an apt description of Deraniyagala. She has fearlessly delivered on memoir’s greatest promise: to tell it like it is, no matter the cost. The result is an unforgettable book that isn’t only as unsparing as they come, but also defiantly flooded with light.
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To Alexandra and Kristiana
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I thought nothing of it at first.
Starved of their loveliness, I feel shrunken. Diminished and faded, without their sustenance, their beauty, their smiles.
Occasionally an insensitive relative might walk away if I mention my anguish, and I reel from the humiliation of my pain being outlandish, not palatable to others.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307962695, Hardcover)

On the morning of December 26, 2004, on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniyagala lost her parents, her husband, and her two young sons in the tsunami she miraculously survived. In this brave and searingly frank memoir, she describes those first horrifying moments and her long journey since. She has written an engrossing, unsentimental, beautifully poised account: as she struggles through the first months following the tragedy, furiously clenched against a reality that she cannot face and cannot deny; and then, over the ensuing years, as she emerges reluctantly, slowly allowing her memory to take her back through the rich and joyous life she’s mourning, from her family’s home in London, to the birth of her children, to the year she met her English husband at Cambridge, to her childhood in Colombo; all the while learning the difficult balance between the almost unbearable reminders of her loss and the need to keep her family, somehow, still alive within her.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:02 -0400)

A memoir of the author's experiences as a survivor of the 2004 tsunami that killed her parents, husband, and two young sons recounts her struggles with profound grief and survivor's guilt and her gradual steps toward healing.

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