Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

This summer, I read Wave because everyone in my family was getting on my last nerve. (I continually fantasized about spending time in a sensory deprivation tank where no one would ask me of anything and I was just always cranky.) Wave is the story of a 2004 tsunami that wipes out this woman’s husband, two young sons, and parents on a Christmas time vacation in Sri Lanka. It is a well-written, brutal story and I have no idea how she came out of it or actually was able to write about it. People go through so much, and somehow, they can come out the other side. She speaks frankly about the horrific accident itself, the disbelief, the despair, the nonstop drinking. She goes through a long period of being blocked by family and friends from suicide attempts. Gradually, she rebuilds her life. She starts writing, she moves to NYC from London, takes antidepressants, goes to therapy (her shrink is like the ultimate awesome Buddhist shrink Mark Epstein), and eventually, begins to write about her ordeal. Her rough draft even gets a thumbs-up on her manuscript from her Sri-Lankan literary hero Michael Ondaatje. The story doesn’t end on a happy note exactly but I was left amazed. By digesting her tragedy and all the other steps mentioned, she has begun to rebuild her life. It is absolutely staggering. Any loss or traumatic event, I think, is in your thoughts almost the entire time. I don’t know how she does it. This book is a testament to the power of therapy, meditation, Buddhism, the incredibly healing benefits of writing and the exceptionally resilient spirit of this writer, because she does not think of this book as a story of grief, but a story of love. And that, my friends, makes me want to stab myself.

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