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
It was a festive time. Economist Deraniyagala, her economist husband (they met at Cambridge), and their two young sons flew from London to Sri Lanka to spend the winter holidays with her parents. They were all staying in a hotel near their favorite national park on December 26, 2004, the day of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami. Deraniyagala describes their bewilderment as they flee the hotel and her terror as they are swept up by the 30-foot-high, racing wave that brutally changed everything. Only Deraniyagal survived. In rinsed-clear language, she describes her ordeal, surreal rescue, and deep shock, attaining a Didionesque clarity and power. We hold tight to every exquisite sentence as, with astounding candor and precision, she tracks subsequent waves of grief, from suicidal despair to persistent fear, attempts to drown her pain in drink, “helpless rage,” guilt and shame, and paralyzing depression. But here, too, are sustaining tides of memories that enable her to vividly, even joyfully, portray her loved ones. An indelible and unique story of loss and resolution written with breathtaking refinement and courage. --Donna Seaman