The Indian Ocean tsunami that broke loose on December 26, 2004, killed something like 230,000 people, including Deraniyagalas parents, husband, and two young sons. And though she opens by taking us straight into the wave, 30 feet high and rushing toward Sri Lanka at 25 miles an hour, her book is ultimately an account of her coping with her grief while also celebrating the memories of those she loved. As she ranges over her childhood in Colombo, meeting her English husband at Cambridge, and the birth of her children, we learn how she managed to keep these wrenching memories, and hence her family, with her.

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.