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One of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the Year

On the morning of December 26, 2004, on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniyagala lost her parents, her husband, and her two young sons in the tsunami she miraculously survived. In this brave and searingly frank memoir, she describes those first horrifying moments and her long journey since. She has written an engrossing, unsentimental, beautifully poised account: as she struggles through the first months following the tragedy, furiously clenched against a reality that she cannot face and cannot deny; and then, over the ensuing years, as she emerges reluctantly, slowly allowing her memory to take her back through the rich and joyous life she’s mourning, from her family’s home in London, to the birth of her children, to the year she met her English husband at Cambridge, to her childhood in Colombo; all the while learning the difficult balance between the almost unbearable reminders of her loss and the need to keep her family, somehow, still alive within her.

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 25, 2013 – Deraniyagala's debut book recounts her life after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami took the lives of her parents, husband, and two sons in Sri Lanka. After being pulled from the muddy wasteland that was formerly the jungle surrounding her hotel, Sonali is taken to a hospital where the reality of her family's death creeps into her psyche. As their bodies are found, Sonali begins to withdraw from the world, searching the internet for the best way to kill herself, drinking every drop of alcohol she can find—including bottles of aftershave—and tormenting the renters of her parents' now vacant house. As she gradually returns to her life, she begins to find the absence of things intolerable, nearly breaking down when she doesn't hear her husband or sons in the house, secretly eating chocolate in the guest room. This is a story not about overcoming grief and loss, but of embracing reality in the face of pain and sadness. It packs an immense punch for being so short—or perhaps because it is so short. Conquering the clear difficulties that come with talking about such profound absences, Deraniyagala has written a book teaming with beautiful ruminations on the bittersweetness of memory and the precariousness of life.

Customer Reviews


You are a brave, beautiful soul that your "three" boys would have wanted you to be!
Move on now. If you can. You're boys would want you to find Peace & love again. You will NEVER forget them. They know that &, I believe, they would all want this after so much time has passed. Life Mum! God bless you! My prayer for you is to find Peace within. -Michelle K.

Inspiring and enlightening

A greater hug I could not give this woman. I truly felt all of her emotions and could not put her book down. I needed to know how someone could go on after such a tragedy. I hope she loves again because any receiver of that love she exudes would be one very happy being.


Terribly depressing. Couldn't finish it.

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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Mar 05, 2013
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 240 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings

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