Ann at Books On The Nightstand raved about this book by Sonali Deraniyagala. She said it would stay with you. And Ann wasn’t wrong. The book is about Ms. Deraniyagala and her family. They were on the Sri Lankan coast on the day the Tsunami hit. Her husband, two song, mother and father perished. She survived. And with that survival came an enormous amount of guilt.
The guilt that Ms. Deraniyagala feels leads to her inability to get out bed, abuse of drugs and alcohol, and thinking about killing herself. She goes to the resort in Sri Lanka where she had spent that last Christmas with her family and finds remnants from her family. A t-shirt. A page from a book.
She does not go back to her home in London for two years. She does not think she can bear to be there. She feels anger and resentment toward other people’s families. But she does return to her London home and while it is hard for her, it is not as bad as she thought. Eventually she is able to put her life back together. She moves to New York to teach economics. It gives her room to breathe.
She eventually comes to terms with what happened to her family, if that is possible. She moves on with her life, but I’m not sure that she moves forward.
The entire time I was reading this book, I was thinking what would happen to me if I lost Mike, Felicity, Patrick, and my parents at the same time. The answer is I don’t know. I don’t think I could survive that kind of loss with my sanity intact. Some of the reviews of this book on Goodreads commented on Ms. Seraniyagala’s apparent selfishness. I didn’t see her as selfish. I saw her as surviving. She has taken her husband’s family to Sri Lanka so they could see where the Tsunami hit. I think it is incredibly easy to judge her for some of her behaviors. But I don’t see her as selfish. I see her as courageous. I cannot fathom having to live through that kind of tragedy and keeping my wits about me.
This book has stayed with me a couple of weeks after I finished it. I waited to write about it on purpose. I wanted to see if I felt the same about it after I had some distance. I do. It’s worth reading.