Sam and his parents leave for Christmas break in Thailand while a swim meet is keeping Sam's sister, Beth, from joining them. As they leave for Thailand, they have no idea what's in store for them. They are caught in the centre of a 2004 tsunami catastrophe, while Beth safe at home halfway across the world wonders if she will ever see her family again.
A Tsunami is a series of waves caused by earthquakes or undersea volcanic eruptions. Out in the depths of the ocean, tsunami waves do not dramatically increase in height, but as the waves travel inland, they build up higher and higher heights as the depths of the ocean decreases. Tsunami is Japanese and in English it means harbour wave.
The main characters are Sam and Beth. They live in New York. Sam is a twelve year old boy who has whitish-blond hair and freckles. He likes pineapple pancakes. Beth is a nineteen year old girl who has dark brown hair. She is on the swim team. She has a boyfriend named Tad.
The settings take place in New York where they live. Then Sam and his parents go to Thailand for Christmas break and they stay at a resort in a nice bungalow on the beach. Beth stays home and she stays in a dorm at her university.