Engulfed in Grief   2 comments

In Wave, Sonali Deraniyagala writes with intensity and candor as she describes the tsunami she survived but which her family did not.

The memoir begins in the minutes before one of the most deadly forces of nature hit the Sri Lankan coast Dec. 26, 2004. She is initially incredulous that she should survive; it only makes sense that her husband, their seven- and five-year-old sons, along with her mother and father also made it through alive. Unlike the 2012 film, The Impossible, about the same topic, Wave does not have a happy ending. Neither does it have a happy beginning.

Deraniyagala slowly moves through the stages of grief and gets stuck in denial. She is angry, she is depressed and though her narrative extends to 2012, she can’t wrap her heart or mind around the loss she has endured. Yet, she brings her family to life in the memories she shares. She vividly details her sons’ antics and dissimilar personalities. She recounts her courtship with her husband, Steve, and their life in London before and after kids. It takes longer for her to deal with the loss of her parents, so they aren’t as fully portrayed.

Gradually, she’s able to revisit family homes, places her children played, friends and even the devastated Yala resort. The author moves from the present to the past, from her childhood in Sri Lanka to Cambridge, from Yala to London. At each juncture pain is never far from the surface; fortunately, it becomes less raw.

Four Bookmarks
Alfred A. Knopf, 2013
228 pages


2 responses to “Engulfed in Grief

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  1. I have had this on my to-read list for a long while, but have been unable to commit to the grief. Thanks for the reminder.

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