Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Surviving the Tsunami: WAVE by Sonali Deraniyagala

When the tsunami hit Sri Lanka in 2004, Sonali Deraniyagala was on vacation with her family. She, her husband, and her two sons were staying in a resort, about to head down to the beach. Realizing that something was wrong with the water that didn't stop at the beach, they raced inland on foot, and then jumped into a jeep. She didn't have time to alert her parents, staying in the room next door. Unable to outrun the water, the jeep was flipped and Sonali lost her grip on her boys and husband in the debris and flood. When she woke, she found herself in the midst of a hellish landscape, alone.

Sonali Deraniyagala
Wave is Sonali Deraniyagala's horrifying, gripping, unflinching memoir of what happened the day the tsunami hit and what it's like to lose her entire family to one of the worst natural disasters in history. Somehow she survived the tidal wave, but then comes the task of rebuilding a life she's not even sure she wants to live anymore. Wave isn't just another inspirational memoir about how a person experiences a trial and comes out the other end better for the experience. Let's face it, Deraniyagala's life is never going to be "normal" again in the way it was normal before the tsunami. She spent days looking for the bodies of her lost family. The book is a chronicle of resilience and struggle, though, and just by placing a foot in front of the other she shows her courage.

I read Wave months ago, in an afternoon and as preparation for a sales conference. It's a short book and I was reading about twenty books in the span of about two weeks. Nonetheless, this little book knocked me on my ass. It's incredibly powerful and offers room for some interesting conversations. Would you choose to continue living when your loved ones died? How would you cope with the survivor guilt? How do you sleep at night when another freak incident can knock you down again, at any moment? Right now the news is splattered with the man lost in the sinkhole in Florida. Imagine the devastation of a tragedy 250,000 times greater. I can't get this story out of my head. Sonali Deraniyagala's story is arguably the most incredible you will read this year.
The path of the 2004 tsunami. The earthquake creating the wave was the
third largest ever recorded. Sri Lanka, for those who haven't looked at
a map in awhile, is the island off the southeastern tip of India. About a quarter
of a million people died in the wave, with little or no warning of its approach.

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