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3.71  ·  Rating details ·  14,386 Ratings  ·  2,271 Reviews
One of The New York Times's 10 Best Books of the Year, a Christian Science Monitor Best Nonfiction Book, a Newsday Top 10 Books pick, a People magazine Top 10 pick, a Good Reads Best Book of the Year, and a Kirkus Best Nonfiction Book

A National Book Critics Circle Award finalist

In 2004, at a beach resort on the coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniyagala and her family—paren
Paperback, 240 pages
Published December 31st 2013 by Vintage (first published 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)

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Jan 19, 2013 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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In December 2004, Sonali Deraniyagala and her family were home for Christmas. When the tsunami hit Sri Lanka, they all caught in the wave. She survived her parents, her husband, and their children.

Her book tells of her painful progress to recovery from her losses. Having personally gotten stuck a time or two in anger and denial with my own lesser losses, I appreciated her candor. I'm glad that I read the book.
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
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
It took me a long time to finish this book because there were times when I could not read the next page. The loss that Sonali suffered was so crushing that I often was at a loss to comprehend it - I had to take time to find a frame of reference before I could read further. After I finished I realized that she had found that still place in her heart where a wave of remembrance could gently soothe her as she bravely faced life without her loved ones. If you know someone facing a terminal illness I ...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
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Greta by: Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Suddenly losing your parents, your husband and your two little sons, and barely surviving a devastating tsunami yourself.
A wave, that came for them on the morning of December, 26, 2004, when the children were playing with their Christmas presents in a hotel room in Yala, Sri Lanka.

"Such a puny life. Starved of their loveliness, I feel shrunken. Diminished and faded, without their sustenance, their beauty, their smiles. Nothing like how I was that day before the wave."

The grief is unfathomable,
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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!
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Monica Casper
Mar 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jennifer O'Connell
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Not recommended

(Full disclosure: book abandoned at page 103 [out of 228 pages].)

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 detail
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Sonali lost her entire family - two sons, her husband, and her parents - in the 12/26/04 tsunami. She wrote a book about it as part of her therapy and while I think the writing is excellent and the emotions are devastating, I do partly wonder why share this with the world? Particularly after seeing how Sherman Alexie's book tour about his memoir about his mother was so difficult, how could you handle interviews or appearances after people read about this experience? At the same time the story is ...more
Apr 05, 2013 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
Jun 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 05, 2013 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Claudia Putnam
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Lorianne DiSabato
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
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
In Sonali Deraniyagala’s frank and candid memoir, she recounts the loss of her parents, husband, and two sons who were all killed in the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka. Wave is every bit as harrowing as you’d imagine, but it’s also refreshingly sincere and devoid of sensationalism - instead it rather beautifully captures one woman’s honest and occasionally ugly experience with grief. Although it’s at times a bit meandering and repetitive in execution it is utterly gripping from start to finish. There ...more
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 21, 2013 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
Judith E
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Ms. Deraniyagala for sharing all of this. So many poignant thoughts about grief: "How is this me? I was always safe?", "The four of us, we slept here in all our innocence. That'll teach us.", "In an instant I lost my shelter."

Not many of us have suffered what she has, but the mind control and exhaustion of grief are inescapable.
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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.” 12 likes
More quotes…