(Image from Barnes & Noble)
I don't know about you, but I go to the dentist to get book recommendations. Well, okay, I get my teeth cleaned there as well. Still, I often come home with suggestions from my hygienist on what books I should read next and what shows I can't miss on Netflix. I always take note because I love discovering new stories—plus it distracts her from lecturing me on flossing! Anyway, at one of my last appointments, my hygienist mentioned how amazing she found A Long Way Home, a memoir by Saroo Brierley. It sounded so fascinating that I knew I had to pick it up. Apparently, we're not the only ones who thought the story astounding. The book has been widely read and was recently made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman called Lion.
Here's what it's all about:
Until the age of 5, Saroo lived a life of abject poverty in Khandwa, India. That changed one fateful day in 1986 when he traveled to the local train station with his brother. The older boy told Saroo to stay where he was until his brother returned. When his brother did not come back, young Saroo boarded the train anyway. No one seemed to notice the small boy traveling alone. By the time he got off the train days later, Saroo was hopelessly lost. When he was picked up off the streets in Calcutta, he could not tell officials the name of his hometown or even his own surname. With no way to contact his family, Saroo was placed in an overcrowded orphanage.
Not long after, Saroo was adopted by the Brierleys, a kind Australian couple. Subsequently reared in Hobart, Tasmania, he was showered with love and affection by his new family. Still, as he grew up, Saroo wondered about his birth parents and siblings. Determined to figure out where in India he came from, he pored over maps, pumping his foggy memories for information that would lead him home. When Google Earth became available, Saroo launched a concerted, methodical search that would ultimately take him back to the place where his life began.
It's an incredible story and one that Brierley relates in a straightforward, very readable manner. His journey is truly amazing, as is the fierce determination he showed in his dogged pursuit to find his true roots. As an adoptive mother, I was especially interested in his insights on identity, adoption, and familial love. Although his story definitely has its disturbing elements, overall it's an intriguing, inspirational memoir that will leave you gaping in wonder. I enjoyed A Long Way Home very much—it's a quick, compelling read that I (and my dental hygienist) highly recommend.
(Readalikes: I haven't read it yet, but I've heard The Orphan Keeper by Camron Wright tells a similar story.)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for disturbing subject matter and violence
(Note: Lion is rated PG-13)
To the FTC, with love: Another library