Wave is the story of Sonali Deraniyagala, who was vacationing with her family in Sri Lanka during Christmas week of 2004. On December 26th, a devastating tsunami and earthquake occurred in the Indian Ocean and her hotel in Yala was consumed by waves. Deraniyagala lost her parents, husband, and sons to the tsunami, and Wave is her incomprehensible story of recovery.
For independent reading in English, we had to choose a memoir to read on our own. I came across several titles that took my interest - Half Broken Horses, Eat Pray Love, and A House in the Sky. Honestly, I choose Wave because it was the only one available at my local bookstore. Looking back now, I guess you could say it was some sort of sign, that this was the only book in-stock, as if the store was shouting: "This is the book you MUST choose."
Wave is relatively short by normal memoir standards, but a lot is packed into so few pages. Deraniyagala covers the events that occurred on December 26th, 2004 with detail and raw emotion. She reflects on the confusion of the aftermath, but the majority of the book chronicles her long struggle to come to terms with her unimaginable loss.
Deraniyagala writes with in an unsentimental prose that is intimate, full of anger, and painful. She regularly flashes back to a moment before the tsunami - a moment from her childhood, a moment with her children in their London home, the moment she met her husband. Although Deraniyagala is a researcher of economic development and public affairs at the University of London and Columbia University, she writes with a beautiful voice many English scholars would envy.
This memoir contained many unforgettable passages, but for me, the most impactful one was:
"I stubbed out cigarettes on my hands. I didn't smoke, I only burned them into my skin. Again and again. My boys. I don't have them to hold. What do I do with my arms?" (page 43)
Deraniyagala understandably struggles with the definition of a mother. Throughout the memoir, she searches for the answer to the question, "If the death of my children comes before my own, am I still a mother?" She comes to realize however that nothing, not even death, can take this identity away from her.
Wave is dark and haunting, and yet vividly sprinkled with light - making this story of one woman's recovery from the greatest loss, utterly incomprehensible.
Wave was included in The New York Times' Top Ten Best Books of the Year List for 2013.
Story Line - 8/10
Narrator's Voice - 8/10
Writing Style - 9/10
Overall - 25/30