The Big Wave (Pearl S. Buck)

This is a short one, easily swallowed in 1 sitting. It is the story of a Japanese village blended with fishing and farming agriculture. Kino's father is a farmer, and they live high on the mountain near a volcano. Jiya's father is a fisherman, meaning they live on the beach, safe from the volcano but dangerously close to the tsunami-prone sea.

One day, the big wave comes. It decimates the village, and Jiya barely escapes with his life. He becomes part of Kino's family, nurtured back to health by Kino's wise father. It seems that everything the man says is a note-worthy nugget of cultural wisdom. For example:
pg. 12- "Enjoy life and do not fear death-that is the way of a good Japanese."
pg. 24- "for life is always stronger than death."
pg. 26-"Ah, no one knows who makes evil storms. We only know that they come. When they come we must live through them as barely as we can, and after they are gone, we must feel again how wonderful is life."

and on and on

It is easy to infer that Kino's father has had experience with a big wave and losing his family before.

Not my favorite Buck book, but it's good for connecting literature and empathy to science.