Sonali Deraniyagala: Wave (review)


‘How can I sleep? If I sleep now I will forget. I will forget what happened. I will wake believing everything is fine. I will reach for Steve. I will wait for my boys. Then I will remember. And that will be too awful. That I must not risk.’
Is life always worth living? At any cost? I don’t think so. I think there are times when people should be allowed to choose to end life. So if you loose your husband, your two young sons and your parents in one day – is life worth living then?
For Sonali Deraniyagala, this is exactly what happened to her in 2004 when she was vacationing in Sri Lanka with her family and visiting her parents. On December 26th 2004, the whole world learned what a tsunami is. I for one had never heard of it before and I think my own reference for it was the movie The Abyss. But some got a much more cruel lesson than others. Whole families were wiped out. And that’s almost more kind than being left behind, the only survivor.
Sonali is with her family in a hotel room, talking to a friend. Just after the friend has commented on how Sonali is living the dream, she looks out the window and notices that there’s something wrong with the ocean. And then they run. They run so fast that they don’t even stop to warn Sonali’s parents in the hotel room next door. And still – it’s too late. The last thing Sonali remembers is sitting in a jeep and seeing her husband more afraid than ever before, frightened by something behind her, something she can’t see.
The next thing she knows, is a certainty that she’s going to die. But miraculously she survives and is found by a couple of men who drives her to a hospital. And then the waiting begins. Eventually she learns that she has lost her entire family.
And then the struggle begins. At first, it’s more of a struggle to be allowed to kill herself than anything else as well as a fight between memory and grief. How much can you allow yourself to grieve without drowning in it? For a long while, Sonali tries not to think too much about her family because it hurts too much but slowly, slowly, she is ready to start remembering them again. It takes almost two years before she goes back to their home in London for the first time…
This was a hard book to read. It feels like Sonali wrote these things down to help herself, like it was never meant to be published and because of this, it becomes a very raw honest book about how you survive the unthinkable. This also means that it’s not a book that leave you feeling uplifted or impressed by the human spirit’s ability to survive. Yes she does survive but even eight years later, she’s still grieving and still trying to figure out how to live on without her family. Without Steve who seems to be just a perfect fit for her and without the two boys.
Ah, those two boys. It’s heartbreaking to think about these boys. Vikram and Malli. Seven and five years old. The boys come to life again in this book when she share special family moments, details things the boys have said or done and what their special interests was. This book really feels like her way of keeping her family alive – and it is so hard to read.
Her unflinching honesty means that she also shows the darker sides of herself – and of grief. Like how she doesn’t grieve her parents for a long time because of what she calls a pecking order to her grief. There’s simply a limit to how many she can grieve over at one time. Or how she’s not sure if a boy in an ambulance is her son or not. Or how she starts drinking and taking pills to cope. Or how for months she harass the family who buys her parents’ home because she wants it back. But it’s all very understandable. When you loose someone, the places you lived and spent time with them suddenly becomes important. And this is also a memoir about these places. The house in Colombo, Sri Lanka where she grew up. The house in London where she and Steve made a home for their boys. The things they did there, the way they lived there.
I’ve been asking myself why I wanted to read this book, why anyone would read a book about another person’s suffering, why a mother would read about another mother loosing her children. And I’m not sure I can answer it. When I heard of this book, I was immediately drawn to it and knew I wanted to read it. But why? I think my best answer is that when people have suffered so much, the least you can do is read about it. I’m not sure this reason is quite valid and I know I don’t always live by it but this – and the more standard reason that literature allows you to experience things which you (hopefully in this case) never experience yourself – is the best reason I can give right now.
So is it worth living after loosing your entire family? I think the answer for Sonali Deraniyagala is probably yes. Not because she’s over her grief, far from it, but because she is keeping her family somewhat alive by living.
‘They are my world. How do I make them dead?’

First line: I thought nothing of it at first. The ocean looked a little closer to our hotel than usual. That was all.

  • Title: Wave
  • Author: Sonali Deraniyagala
  • Publisher:
  • Year: 2013
  • Pages: 240 pages
  • Source: Own collection – Kindle
  • Stars: 4 stars out of 5

Jim Butcher: Fool Moon (Dresden Files #2)

91477‘Don’t mess with a wizard when he’s wizarding.’ (location 3055)

So immediately after finishing Storm Front, I picked up Fool Moon. In part because I was intrigued and wanted to keep on reading about Harry Dresden and in part because I just wasn’t ready to dive into anything more serious.
I had a good time reading Storm Front but didn’t love the book. But there’s no question about it – Fool Moon is the better book.
As usual – or can’t you say that when it’s only book two? – Harry is in serious need of work and money. But luckily he is called in to help the police and finds himself at the scene of a rather grizzly murder. A scene with large paw prints, a victim which seems to have been halfway eaten – and it’s a full moon. I’m not spoiling anything by saying that werewolves play a part in the plot.
But if it were just werewolves, it would be too easy. So as it turns out, there are different kinds of werewolves – and they don’t necessarily look with friendly eyes on each other. Or on the private eye wizard trying to figure out what’s going on…
There’s not much new under the sun. The plot follows roughly the same pattern as in the first book. There are several recurring characters who do pretty much the same as in the first book and Harry seems to react in the same ways. But there’s is something about these books and as the writing has improved from the first book, I’m still game.
Something I really like about this series is, that Harry doesn’t always seem to always know exactly what he’s doing and even though he’s a trained wizard, he sometimes overestimates his own abilities. And that works well for creating some great action. Another clever move is that Dresden can’t use modern technology so he can’t just look things up online because anything electric basically self-destructs whenever he gets near. This is such a smart move on Butcher’s part.
I also really like that Butcher doesn’t fully explain a lot of things. We are still left guessing about what a lot of things are and how the magic really works. Like the Nevernever. I’m pretty sure that Harry will go there at some point and I like that we are kept waiting.
But I think my favorite part of this book was the potion making. He makes a fade-into-the-background potion as well as a pick-me-up potion and the ingredients just makes sense – in a funny way. The fade-into-the dark potion is filled with boring stuff – like lettuce for taste and elevator music to camouflage the spirit whereas the pick-me-up potion contains morning doughnut, fresh soap, dawn sunshine, a to-do list, some bright cheerful music – and coffee! I’m really not sure it makes sense if you think too hard about it but it doesn’t have to. It works in the book.
So all in all, this book has more humor and feels better written than the first book in the series. Oh, and he mentions Benji too, a childhood favorite of mine. So again, an enjoyable read and I’ll definite read further on in the series at some point. Probably soon because I’m starting to fall asleep again when reading in bed at night…

  • Title: Fool’s Moon (The Dresden Files #2)
  • Author: Jim Butcher
  • Publisher: Roc 
  • Year: 2001
  • Pages:  421 pages
  • Source: Own collection – Kindle
  • Stars: 3 stars out of 5

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Five of my favorite book apps

I recently discovered the 1001 Books app and that made me think about what other excellent book apps there are out there. I think the apps you have on your phone says a lot about who you are, what interests you and who you would like to be. I love books so of course I have a lot of book apps. These are some of my favorite apps but there are many more out there, although not as many as I would like there to be. Still, here are a few good ones.

Goodreads This is my favorite books app. I use it every day. I use it to take notes to what I’m reading and to keep track of how far I’m getting in my books. I never buy a book anymore without first looking at Goodreads and see what others write about it. I like to use Goodreads to see what others think about the books I read, have read or are planning to read. It’s possible to see every book on your shelves, see what your friends are reading as well as check out your groups and see the discussions in these. You can also easily add new books you buy by scanning the barcode. I like everything about Goodreads – and the app is really awesome.

Audible I like the idea of audio books. In theory. But I still have some feeling that if you don’t read a book, actually sit down and read with your eyes, you haven’t really read the book. I get easily distracted when listening to a book but I hope to be able to change that and start listening to some books. I plan on reading James Joyce Ulysses while listening to it at the same time because I think that will make it easier to understand it. I also have a garden full of weeds and I hope to listen to some books while cleaning it all up. This also comes with listening stats so when you listen to audio books, you slowly level up ’till you finally become App Master. I like being able to level up like that – first level requires 100 hours of listening. I think I can almost achieve that by listening to Ulysses!

Man Booker Prize I know a lot of people dislike the ManBooker, finding it too literary or too snobbish. Still, I have read some good books from it’s long and short lists – and it has a nice pretty app. This is probably the award I follow the closest – and therefore I like this app. It has information about the Prize from 1969 and to the present day. You can see the winner from each year as well as the short list, and the long list from some years. Unfortunately, this app isn’t updated quickly enough so when there’s something happening in the world of the Man Booker, it isn’t shown on the app right away which is a shame. I would also like to be able to mark which of the novels I have read but otherwise, I really like this app.

L-Space This is an app to keep track of your Discworld novels. I find it sometimes confusing to remember which books I already own in this series so it’s nice to have a list where I can easily see which books I have on my shelf as well as track which ones I’ve read. The app even features which characters are in each book so it’s easy to buy books within each of the separate story lines in the Discworld universe. Discworld is a rather complicated series to keep the various story lines straight in, and this app is really helpful with that. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been updated for a long while so it works best with the older novels in this series – the newest novel in the app is Unseen Academicals and I Shall Wear Midnight. I hope this app will be updated again on a regular basis.

Kindle I have a Kindle so of course, I also have the Kindle app. I really like the idea of being able to read your books on different devices, if needed. That being said, I hardly ever use it. If I read a book on my Kindle, I have my Kindle with me and otherwise, I have a paper book with me. Still, I can see myself using it more in the future when I hopefully start to have more of a commute.

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