Once in a while, I love to pick up non-fiction books. Whether it’s a biography, a memoir or a simple textbook, I always feel as though I always gain something out of reading a non-fiction book. Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala wasn’t an exception to this rule.

Wave is a memoir about Sonali Deraniyagala’s miraculous survival when a tsunami hit the southern coast of Sri Lanka while she and her family were on vacation. While she was lucky to have survived, she also lost most of her family, including her two sons and husband.

This story is not only about Sonali’s survival from the tsunami but also her learning to live without the people she loved most afterward. During the course of the book, we see her struggle through different grieving stages.

I found this book extremely eye-opening. As someone who has not had many great losses in her life, I sometimes have trouble understanding exactly how much grief and pain people go through. This has been a big challenge when I first started Wave. Though it’s hard for me to relate to what Sonali has been through, I was able to experience a bit of it through her eyes which, in turn, has helped me become a bit more compassionate.

It took me over a month to finish Wave and at less than 300 pages, it’s not because it was a long read but because it’s a very heavy and draining one. I needed to take time off from it because at times I felt so emotionally drained and needed to think of other things. Sonali’s story is not an easy one to read, and it’s not supposed to. Having lost her family, you can be sure her voice is very negative throughout a good part of the book which was something that turned me off for a while, that is, until I started imagining how I’d react in her position. I’d probably have very similar thoughts.

If you’re looking for a story that will make you think and feel until you have no more energy left; If you’re looking for a book that is not embellished and tells it like it is; If you’re not intimidated by very dark and real stories, may I suggest giving Wave a try?


“Their promise, my children’s possibilities, still linger in our home.”
― Sonali Deraniyagala, Wave