Sonali was in Sri Lanka on Boxing Day in 2004 when there was an earthquake in the ocean that caused a huge tsunami to rip across the water, coming on to shore in many countries in the region, killing more than 200,000 people. The book starts in her hotel room that morning with her husband, two boys, and family friends. Her family friend notices the tide start to look different, then the water start to come in. She urges them to leave and the family runs. Sonali doesn't even have time to notify her parents next door.
This book has one of the most chilling starts I've ever read. It's a first person account of Sonali leaving her hotel room, running for safety, and the wave overtaking them. She loses contact with her family and struggles to stay alive. Books don't usually impact my dreams, but I actually had nightmares the night after I read the start of this book. It was riveting.
Sonali finds out that none of her family survives. Right after the wave, she winds up at the hospital, hoping that one of her family members will show up and completely in shock. Sonali has absolutely no filter on her thoughts during this time and honestly I feel less of her because of this. She thinks some pretty horrible things of a child that survives.
The rest of the book focuses solely on Sonali's grief. She is, understandably, destroyed by losing her whole family: husband, two children, mother and father. She shuts herself away in a room of a family member in Sri Lanka, not returning to her home in London for years. She tries alcohol to sooth her grief. Eventually it gets to the point where remembering doesn't hurt her, but helps her. However, this part of the book reads like it should be her journal rather than a book for public consumption.
If you're looking for a book on the tsunami, this is not the book for you. This book is completely about grief and what happens to a woman who loses her entire family.
First Line: "I thought nothing of it at first."