Friday, May 16, 2014


Sonali Deraniyagala
273 pages

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.

Story Line - 8/10
Narrator's Voice - 8/10
Writing Style - 9/10

Overall - 25/30

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mrs. Weasley's Got Nothing on My Mom

"'Mummy, have you seen my jumper?'
'Yes dear it was on the cat.'"

-Ginny and Mrs. Weasley, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Although Mrs. Weasley from the Harry Potter books is undoubtedly the Best Book Mom Ever, I think my mom might be #1 on the real-life list.

Mrs. Weasley has always been one of my favorite characters from the Harry Potter books. I loved the way she would sit in the kitchen and watch Mr. Weasley's clock hand move from "At work" to "Traveling" to "Home", the way she knitted family jumpers for all of her children plus Harry, and how she made her family home the coziest place.

Some of my favorite moments from the books take place in the Weasley's home, The Burrow. Harry even agreed, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when he says "This is the best house I've ever been in." Many of my favorite memories also take place in my own home. My mom has always made it a welcoming, comfortable, and safe place to be. I love when she and I play board games on the dining room table, or when we sit downstairs together in front of the fireplace to watch a movie.

Mrs. Weasley was given some of the funniest lines in the books. The above quote is from the second movie, and is definitely my favorite. And then there is her most memorable moment, when upon saving Ginny, and killing Bellatrix Lestrange she shouts: "Not my daughter you BITCH!", in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Whether we realize it or not, mothers are often the bravest, and strongest people in our lives. I guess because I'm older now, I've learned to see just how brave and strong my own mother is.

I, unlike Ron, do not have to be told to go de-gnome the garden, or to stop playing Quidditch in the yard, but I do have to empty to dishwasher and clean my room. And although I don't like doing either of those things, my chores really are such small tasks compared to what my mom does every day, and she doesn't even have a magic wand to make it easier.

And although I might look a bit more like Mrs. Weasley, being a red-haired girl, my mom and I are more alike than I sometimes think. We are both take-charge kind of people, outgoing, and caring - and I wouldn't trade that for the world.

So, on this Mother's Day, I pay tribute to Mrs. Weasley and my own mother, who both, in very different ways , and in very different capacities, have taught me such important lessons.

"'If anyone's got a right to know it's Harry. If it wasn't for him we wouldn't even know Voldemort was back! He's not a child, Molly!'
'He's not an adult either! He's not James, Sirius.'
'He's not your son.'
'He's as good as! Who else has he got?'"

-Sirius Black and Mrs. Weasley, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix