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In The Breaking Wave, Katherine Hayton weilds the full power of the short story.
Christine and Gary, expats on the island of Phuket, Thailand at the time of the tsunami, are in search of their young daughter, whom they lost when the wave hit. The story has a post-apocolyptic atmosphere, where everyday comforts are a distant memory and horrifying devestation is now the everyday.
The Breaking Wave features an interesting reversal of the usual roles of men and women in other stories like it. In The Breaking Wave, it is the husband who clings with desperate hope to the belief that their baby girl is alive. It is the wife who is eager to move forward, to give practical help to others, to let go. This flipping over of the usual gender tropes was interesting to me, but also left me incredulous of the mother's detachment through most of the story. I couldn't believe a freshly grieving mother would have an eye or a heart for anyone except her daughter, even three weeks after the girl's disappearance.
Hayton answered this objection with a resounding and startling punch to the heart, toward the end of the story, but I still finished it with an overal sense of disatisfaction. I found myself asking this question and wishing that Hayton's character had asked it for me: "How then shall we live?"
Overall, the quality of writing and the ruthless use of detail made this story an excellent one. I'm not sure there was any way to finish it to the reader's satisfaction, considering what happened, but I'm glad I read it. And I'm glad I listened to it in the author's native New Zealand tongue.