Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala


I bought Wave when it first came out, but didn’t get around to reading it for several months. This isn’t unusual for me. I buy books on an almost weekly basis, usually two or three at a time. There simply isn’t time for me to read books as soon as I buy them. But, I intentionally putting off reading Wave. I was scared. There was no way a book about a woman who lost her parents, her husband and her two children in the tsunami of 2004 could be anything but the saddest book ever. I wasn’t sure I was mentally up to reading something so tragic. I don’t know what finally made me feel brave enough to read it, but when I did I was somewhat surprised by it.

Wave is undoubtedly a sad book, but it’s more than that. Sonali Deraniyagala could very well have only talked about her sorrow (that doesn’t seem to be a strong enough word, but honestly no word seems strong enough to describe what she’s gone through) and how she’s managed to gradually pick up the pieces of her life and continue on when she’s lost so much. She touches on these subjects, but lightly. I can’t blame her. I read a Goodreads review in which the reviewer complained that Deraniyagala didn’t dive deep enough into her grieving. To which my reaction was, “What kind of sadist are you that you need the gritty details of this woman trying to cope with losing almost her entire family?” I think she talks about it enough that the reader gets the idea without the overwhelming details.

Instead, Deraniyagala wrote a love letter to  her family. She tells their stories and despite the tragedy pervading this book, I found it to be oddly uplifting. Without ever coming right out and saying it, Deraniyagala acknowledges how fortunate she was to have these people in her life and she pays homage to them the best that she can. This runs the risk of underscoring her loss, but instead comes off as a celebration of the lives of her husband, children and parents.


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