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3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  12,886 Ratings  ·  2,095 Reviews
On the morning of December 26, 2004, on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniyagala lost her parents, her husband, and her two young sons in the tsunami she miraculously survived. In this brave and searingly frank memoir, she describes those first horrifying moments and her long journey since. She has written an engrossing, unsentimental, beautifully poised accoun ...more
Kindle Edition, 274 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Knopf (first published March 1st 2013)
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Brenda If you have someone in your life who has lost a loved one, or especially more than one loved one at the same time, you should read this book. The…more If you have someone in your life who has lost a loved one, or especially more than one loved one at the same time, you should read this book. The author has the amazing ability to describe what she goes through in such a way that helps the reader understand her experience of profound grief. There is no proper time line for grief recovery. She does the best she can, but it takes a long time for her to deal with so much loss. This book provides the opportunity to understand grief and loss when you have no other way to do so. (less)

Community Reviews

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Jan 19, 2013 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a book for me. Wave is compelling, and extremely well written, but is just page after page of pain. The pain and depression are relentless, and I don't understand the appeal of going to a grey, formless universe of awfulness, and just sitting there while the anguish seeps into your skin. I have no children, and I can't imagine the masochism it would take to read this if I did.

But there's another thing. I'm at risk of being seen as a jerk, totally lacking in compassion, but here goes: There'
Carey J
Mar 16, 2013 Carey J rated it really liked it
I find the negative reviews on here interesting. Many of them want resolution and hope. I think one of the messages of this memoir is that life goes on, but there is never really a resolution to that level of grief. Grief changes shape and evolves but it marches forward. One doesn't just pick herself up by her bootstraps and start a new life full of hope (perhaps some do, but not most). She has had enough time to process some of her pain, but in some ways, she still seems a bit confused and numb ...more
Apr 15, 2013 Avidreader rated it it was ok
It's hard to make a negative comment about this book without coming across as hard hearted, but here goes! I found it really hard to empathise with the author as she came across as cold, selfish and spoilt. It's impossible to know how one would react in a situation as tragic as this, but I would hope that most people wouldn't be as callous as she. Even before she knew her family was dead her attitude towards everyone around her was cruel, including a boy in tears asking her if his parents were d ...more
What is most striking to me about this memoir of the tsunami which hit Sri Lanka December 26, 2004 is the clarity with which Deraniyagala shares her sense of dislocation, devastation, and despair following the deaths of her entire family. She recalls rising water in words that take one’s breath, and then her stunned silence and blank lack of emotion when she describes the tsunami’s aftermath, when she alone of her family remained, covered in black mud and clinging to a tree.

What I never knew and
Mar 12, 2013 Sophie rated it it was amazing
This book is going to haunt me for days. Sonali Deraniyagala writes about an unfathomable tragedy - losing her husband, sons and parents in the 2004 tsunami - with grace, beauty and brutal honesty, fluidly moving between her memories of the disaster, her life before it, and her struggles and failures to cope in the years afterwards. Her loving, unsentimental descriptions of her family are beautifully written and truly heartbreaking, and the book makes for an interesting study of memory almost as ...more
Sep 01, 2016 Kelli added it
Shelves: audio
As an empath and a highly sensitive person, I made a very poor decision in opting to listen to this one. I have always stayed away from it expecting it to be impossibly heart-rending. I only made it halfway and I just can't continue. To think that her story is just one of so many. My heart hurts!
Monica Casper
Mar 09, 2013 Monica Casper rated it really liked it
I study and teach trauma, and so I'm naturally drawn to trauma memoirs--a genre I know well. I'm also a mom and daughter, and this story of grief and colossal loss drew me in from the first page. Unimaginable to lose one's children, husband, and parents in one massive event. Deraniyagala does an amazing job of capturing the confusion she felt post-catastrophe, the sense of not being in her life without her loved ones there to anchor her. Moreover, her self-destruction--drinking, suicidal thought ...more
Mar 18, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, grief, disaster
This is a powerful story about a woman who lost her husband, children and parents in the 2004 tsunami. Sonali and her family were vacationing in Sri Lanka when the wave hit, and her world fell apart. Sonali managed to survive by clinging to a tree branch, but the rest of her family was killed.

"Wave" is a grief memoir, with Sonali trying to adjust to a new life of being alone. She goes through a desperate period of wanting to kill herself; she drinks too much alcohol and barely leaves her room.
Jennifer O'Connell
Mar 14, 2013 Jennifer O'Connell rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
I read this in four hours straight tonight but I know it will stay with me for a very, very long time. It is piercing, raw, sparsely written and without doubt the saddest story I have ever encountered: the memoir of Sonali Deraniyagala who lost her two young sons, her husband and both her parents in the St Stephen's Day tsunami of 2004.

Don't read it expecting closure or redemption, because - of course - there can be none. Nor is it an account of the tsunami or the hundreds of thousands of others
Rebecca Foster
The author was vacationing with her family at a national park on the southeast coast of her native Sri Lanka in December 2004 when the Boxing Day tsunami hit, killing her parents, husband, and two sons. Job-like, Deraniyagala gives shape to her grief and lovingly remembers a family life now gone forever as she tours her childhood home in Colombo and her London house. It’s not until over six years later that she feels “I can rest … with the impossible truth of my loss, which I have to compress of ...more
Dec 13, 2015 Caroline rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Not recommended

(Book abandoned at page 103 [out of 228].)

Memoirs are the most intimate of stories and likely the ones the author is most personally invested in. The problem with Wave is that it’s intimate to the point of reading like the author’s most private journal. Wave is an homage to Deraniyagala’s two sons, husband, and parents, who all perished in the Indian Ocean tsunami that hit on December 26, 2004. The author is thoroughly gutted afterward and spares no details in describing the day
Apr 18, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing
When natural disaster strikes we read the papers and watch the news coverage with laden hearts. Our minds have trouble comprehending the devastation, the loss of life, the emotional shock of these horrific events. Unless local or personal, all too quickly my life moves on, forgetting the ongoing grief, destruction and loss that continues to plague these people.

What compelled me to read Sonali Deraniyagala's Wave? Why would I choose to read this personal, gut wrenching account? Sonali Deraniyaga
Mar 27, 2013 Jill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
Early on in life, many of us were exposed to the story of Job – a blameless and upstanding man who is forced to endure an agony of human despair and desolation of spirit by meaningless tragedies that afflict him. The question raised is this: “Why does apparently senseless tragedy strike good people?”

There has never, to my mind, been a satisfactory answer to this question, which continues to exude a grim fascination for the very reason of its senselessness. In reading this tragic and haunting mem
Deb Stone
May 12, 2013 Deb Stone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book opens with a line that depicts Deraniyagala’s not-knowing; the not-knowing so many shared before that day when we saw news accounts of the destruction caused by the tsunami. By page two, we know the inescapable horror from which the author attempts to flee.

We clasp hands with her and run. We leap with her in the jeep, feel the rising water, feel the weight of her children hanging by their armpits, feel the jeep overturn in the churning wave. We share her numb disbelief, too, and in the
Nov 05, 2013 Paul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a hard book to review considering the content. Here you have someone opening up with brutal honesty about her feelings over losing her family in the tsunami. And I don't mean just her husband and two children, but her parents as well. We learn of her agonizing journey over the course of 7 years. I'm reminded of a scene in one of my favorite movies, "Robocop", in which officer Murphy (now transformed into Robocop) is walking through his old home, touching things like picture frames, and b ...more
Mar 05, 2013 Tania rated it it was amazing
For three years I've tried to indelibly imprint they are dead on my consciousness, afraid of slipping up and forgetting, of thinking they are alive. Coming out of that lapse, however momentary, will be more harrowing than the constant knowing, surely.

Wave was heartbreakingly beautiful. I initially wanted to read this book because of the Tsunami element, but it really is not about a Tsunami at all. It's about losing everyone you love in one moment, and how you learn to live with it. The author's
Jun 02, 2013 Pamela rated it really liked it
I'm sure that a lot of people cannot relate to this book and the author's motivation for it, but for me, it voices back my own shift of reality due to trauma and the resulting mental illness, and that comforts me. Some parts of the book are absolutely stunning and then more so when I remember it is a memoir and all true. The author has a talent for writing so raw and beautifully, often poetic.

I know that this book is a big part of the authors healing and am so proud of her for facing it. Some r
Feb 21, 2013 Louise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
Story Description:

McClelland & Stewart|March 5, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-7710-2536-5

A brave, intimate, beautifully crafted memoir by a survivor of the tsunami that struck the Sri Lankan coast in 2004 and took her entire family.

On December 26, Boxing Day, Sonali Deraniyagala, her English husband, her parents, her two young sons, and a close friend were ending Christmas vacation at the seaside resort of Yala on the south coast of Sri Lanka when a wave suddenly overtook them. She was only to
Claudia Putnam
Apr 07, 2013 Claudia Putnam rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
It's a little sad when a book that clearly took a long time to write, and to be able to write, takes only a few hours to read. I charged through this last night; could not put it down, as heavy as the material is.

Most basic response: ANGER at the negative or judgmental reviews this book has received. While Wave has received a huge positive response as well, I say SHAME ON those who feel there should be some kind of happy ending to this. I think of Barbara Ehrenreich's study Bright-sided: How th
Mar 22, 2013 Holly rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013-reads
When a memoirist's honesty is unflinching, and when I can tell that they have asked serious questions, and when they can explain themselves in interesting and surprising prose, then I don't care what the memoir is "about." And yet, with regard to "aboutness," I admit to curiosity about a personal account of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. So when this book appeared with its preceding "buzz" and reviews in important places, I wanted to read it.

The beginning was gripping and immediate and vivid an
Lorianne DiSabato
Mar 19, 2013 Lorianne DiSabato rated it it was amazing
I recently finished Sonali Deraniyagala's Wave, which I'd originally reviewed here. When I wrote that review, I had read only the first half of the book. Now that I've finished the entire thing, I'm still thinking about it. Wave is a book you read slowly, then spend a long time processing.

Wave struck me as being several memoirs in one: or, more accurately, a memoir that recounts the cyclic and spiraling cycles of grief. Grief isn't something you get over, as if life after loss could ever be the
Mar 16, 2013 Ellie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Waveis Sonali Deraniyagala's horrific experience as the lone surviving member of her family from the 2004 tsunami off the coast of Indonesia. The tsunami struck suddenly the day after Christmas. Deraniyagala was staying at a tourist hotel with her husband, their two young sons, and her parents.

The actual event takes places in the first few pages. One moment, Deraniyagala, an economist, has "the life of a dream" according to a friend. Within a few minutes, all of this is wiped out. Deraniyagala f
Kirsti (Melbourne on my mind)
At its core, this is a book about grief and how it doesn't just go away. You can be struck by grief at any time, no matter how much time has passed. And when you lose as many people at once as Deraniyagala did - her husband, two children, and parents all died in the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 - it's hardly surprising that she doesn't just bounce back into normality after a matter of weeks.

Deraniyagala is blunt about her mental health in the aftermath of the tsunami. How she planned to kill hers
Apr 01, 2013 Marjie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This woman's account of life after the 2004 tsunami was heart-breaking, certainly, and was a reminder to enjoy the present, as not one of us knows how much time we have on this earth. I can't imagine losing a child or spouse, let alone my whole family. However, there were a few things that niggled at me as I read this. I should preface my thoughts by saying of course I understand that this was a theraputic process for her; she wasn't setting out to write an audience-pleasing best-seller, and of ...more
Jan 03, 2015 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, 2014
This is a difficult book to review because the story is tragic and heartbreaking and I feel terrible for the many people who suffered through the Boxing Day tsunami. But as a reader, this particular story didn't grab me the way I expected it to. Deraniyagala certainly doesn't need to care if I enjoyed reading her story or how many stars I give it. I'm sure that the act of writing this helped her to deal with her horrible loss and that ultimately is what matters. What happened to her was incredib ...more
Jun 05, 2013 Nadia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"Such a puny life. Starved of their loveliness, I feel shrunken. Diminished and faded, without their sustenance, their beauty, their smiles."

What a shocking, horrific, heart wrenching story. At times I cried so much I struggled to breathe, other times I could not bring myself to shed a tear.

I cannot imagine something so terrible happening. To have eveyone close to you being taken from you in a moment. Whilst reading I could not even try and imagine what it must feel like. To come to terms not o
Apr 05, 2013 Darlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala is one of the saddest, most moving books and is demonstrative of just how incredibly resilient the human spirit can be. On December 26, 2004, a tsunami struck the southern coast of Sri Lanka. That morning, which started out as a typical 'day after Christmas' morning for Ms. Deraniyagala, her husband Steve, her two young sons and her parents... turned into an unbelievable nightmare from which she is still trying to make sense of to this day. Ms. Deraniyagala (original ...more
Jaclyn Day
Jul 02, 2013 Jaclyn Day rated it it was amazing
I was going to write this review tomorrow but I couldn’t wait. I just finished this book maybe 20 minutes ago. I can still feel the remains of the tears that fell uncontrollably as I turned the final pages. I am wrecked. I have never read a book like this.

Sonali and her family—her husband, two sons (aged 5 and 7) and her parents—were vacationing on the coast of Sri Lanka in the latter days of 2004. The book begins in their hotel room. Her two sons are playing with their Christmas presents and he
Diane Yannick
Mar 30, 2013 Diane Yannick rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
My rating is 4.5 to be precise. In 2004 in Sri Lanka, a tsunami sweeps away Sonali's two sons, husband and parents. By the miracle of a tree branch, she lives. Once she escaped from the spinning mud, she gradually had to accept the truth. She was no longer a mother, wife or daughter. She was alone.

The tsunami arrives during a peaceful family morning just one day after Christmas. Her sons were playing with their gifts from the day before. The description of the tsunami is powerful and ends with t
Lucky G
Mar 15, 2013 Lucky G rated it it was amazing
I don't usually do book reviews. I leave it to one of my best mates Sanjee's Book Nook to review books. One of the reasons why I'm doing this review is because I just finished reading this book and it really moved me.

It took me two takes to read this book. My first try reading this book, I just didn't have the stomach for it. I closed it, locked it inside the cupboard and went to bed very very depressed. I decided I will not attempt to read it again. My mind could just not take how Sonali could
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Sonali Deraniyagala is a Sri Lankan memoirist and economist. Born and raised in Colombo, Sri Lanka, she studied economics at Oxford and Cambridge. She married economist Stephen Lissenburgh.

While on vacation at Sri Lanka's Yala National Park in December 2004, she lost her two sons, her husband, and her parents in the Indian Ocean tsunami. The tsunami carried her two miles inland and she was able to
More about Sonali Deraniyagala...

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“I am in the unthinkable situation that people cannot bear to contemplate.” 17 likes
“Their promise, my children's possibilities, still linger in our home.” 13 likes
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