A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley

 

I read Saroo Brierley’s amazing memoir A Long Way Home and highly recommend it. Saroo’s story starts when he is five years old and ends some twenty-five years later. The film will be released this month, with Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, and Nicole Kidman. The film’s title is Lion. (The book explains why.)

As a reader, I was right beside Saroo on every step of a journey that begins with getting separated from his brother in a train station in India and continues with homelessness for a few perilous weeks. Later, a helpful stranger brings Saroo to police who place him in an orphanage, from which he is eventually adopted to a loving couple in Tasmania.

As an adoptive parent, I was especially captivated by Saroo’s sensitive telling of his feelings around adoption and why he was compelled to search for the family he lost. The narrative that recounts his returning to his hometown and finding his birth mother are powerful and heart-rending. He writes: “My mother described her reactions better than I ever could mine: she said she was ‘surprised with thunder’ that her boy had come back, and that the happiness in her heart was ‘as deep as the sea.’”

The book is fast-paced, accessible, and written in a voice that is utterly engaging. Surprisingly (or not?) the only sections that dragged slightly for me were passages recounting Saroo’s hunt for the name of his hometown, which required days and months searching Google Earth.

But overall, A Long Way Home is a worthwhile and wonderful read–perfect for book clubs who like to discuss topical themes.~

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