A preview for the Ewan McGregor-Naomi Watts (playing the parents of the Belon-Alvarez family) movie, The Impossible, made me furious. There are many stories to tell about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami or wave as Deraniyagala calls it, and Hollywood had decided to make McGregor and Watts the faces of it? Absurd. I wanted a different story.

Still, I hesitated before picking Wave off of my shelf. There was no way it was going to be a comfortable read, and Deraniyagala doesn’t allow us to settle in. The wave arrives on page 3. And then we follow her both forwards and backwards in time as she struggles to survive without her family (not a spoiler – it is indicated on the back of the book) and with her memories. It’s a raw book. Deraniyagala does not spare herself. And as we get to know her family, her struggles to find her way back to some kind of life without them take on more poignant urgency.

The New York Times Book Review called this one of the ten best books of the year.  The writing is certainly strong – detached at times, much like the author – but always vivid. And the story is important. Skip The Impossible; read this story.

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