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Random House LLC
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|Length: 274 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
We have become inured by the overwhelming number of stories of horror and tragedy. Perhaps we have thought to ourselves what we might do. Surely, we would sweep our parents up. Nor seeing the ocean in so strange a fashion, would be one of those who fled early. We might have had a better plan to survive. But in the end this is not the case. This book impels us to face the fact that given the overwhelming, we are helpless.
The author talks intimately of her days, months, years following the loss of her family. The prose is revelatory but not melodramatic. Sonali's story is told honestly with her attempts of suicide, her drinking, and her despair. She doesn't hide her frank anger with those who did survive. She doesn't rationalize the depths of despair and the inward turning of grief. It has been said that humans cannot grasp the horror of thousands of deaths, but can come to understand it by learning a story in depth. This book puts truth to this perception.
I read alot, about 70 books a year, and very very few get five stars. Five stars for me means the book goes way beyond "well-written", or "good story" to the level of impactful in my own life. I can't think of another book about loss that resonates so much - -
I have nothing comparable to her loss but her words help me view my own losses through different lenses.
I will remember this book just as I will always remember Joan Didon's Year of Magical Thinking. . .it's unforgettable. Deraniyagala displays unbelievable courage.
For a long time, she avoids thinking about her family. She drinks heavily, takes sleeping medication and tries to keep herself in a stupor. She thinks of suicide constantly and imagines different ways that she can take her life. She sees no reason to go on without the family she adored. Her relatives in Sri Lanka watch her day and night but that doesn't stop her from cutting herself, and hurting herself in other ways.
She and her parents are from Sri Lanka and she finds out that her parents' house has been rented. She harasses the renters, a Dutch family, because she wants to sit in the house where her children played and her parents lived, feeling the energy and calmness that is only available to her there.
This book is the story of her journey during an eight year period. Both she and her husband were professors in London and were on sabbatical in Sri Lanka when the wave came. They were due to leave Yala that evening. Now, Ms. Deraniyagala is a guest professor at Columbia University in New York. We travel with her on her geographic journeys as well as her psychic ones as she yearns at first to be demolished and not to think of her family, to a place in her heart where she wants the memories of her family close to her.
She attributes a lot of her healing to her therapist. It is poignant to see how she clutches the memories of her two boys to her heart at the end, one eight years old and one five years old when the tsunami hit. We learn how she met her husband, Steve, while a student at Cambridge. Sonali imagines what her children and husband would be like today. She grasps at these memories in order to make herself whole though she keeps her personal history mostly to herself when with acquaintances. "By knowing them again, by gathering threads of our life, I am much less fractured. I am also less confused....I can recover myself better when I dare let in their light."
This is a brave and heartrending memoir, one that is shocking and horrific at times. I try to imagine what the author is going through and it is impossible. No one but she can feel this pain. I highly recommend this book for its forthright manner and truth, both its despair and ultimately, its resilience in the face of great loss.
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