Every once in a while, there is a book so powerful that you have to stop reading so you can breathe. This is one of those books.
Sonali Deraniyagala was in Sri Lanka with her family when the tsunami hit, in 2004. She was the only survivor.
I met her at Random House, where she was talking about her book. She said that she wrote the book for herself, to try, as she said, “to make sense of the water itself.” To banish fear. It took her five years to write it, and she never thought anyone would want to publish it as a book.
Usually I’m eager to ask authors questions about themselves, their books, but in this case it seemed cruel. She lost her husband, her parents, and both her children – and managed to write about it. I will be satisfied getting my answers from the book, although even that seems like prying.
She manages to convey, very well – too well for comfort, what it is like to live with that loss. I wanted to go and get my children from school and just hold onto them.
She did survive, and is still surviving. You realize that she is choosing life, every day.