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A Long Way Home: A Memoir Paperback – June 2, 2015
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“Amazing stuff.”—The New York Post
“So incredible that sometimes it reads like a work of fiction.”—Winnipeg Free Press (Canada)
“A remarkable story.”—Sydney Morning Herald Review
“I literally could not put this book down...[Saroo's] return journey will leave you weeping with joy and the strength of the human spirit.”—Manly Daily (Australia)
“We urge you to step behind the headlines and have a read of this absorbing account...With clear recollections and good old-fashioned storytelling, Saroo...recalls the fear of being lost and the anguish of separation.”—Weekly Review (Australia)
About the Author
Born in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, India, Saroo Brierley lives in Hobart, Tasmania, where he manages a family business, Brierley Marine, with his father. Saroo’s story has been published in several languages and is now a major motion picture from The Weinstein Company.
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Saroo is lovingly brought up by the Brierleys and he grows up into a happy and well-integrated Aussie over the next 20 years. However Saroo always wonders about his origins, with clear memories of his birth mother Kamala, his kid sister Shekila and elder brothers Kallu and Guddu, whom he looked up to as a child two decades before. He starts working on trying to find where he was from by using the feeble memories of his childhood. All he had to go by was that there was a train station whose name was something like 'Berampur' , that it had a water tower, an overpass across the tracks and that the town had a fountain near a cinema. His village 'Ginestlay' was somewhere nearby and that they were all reachable overnight by train from Calcutta. Gradually, over five years, with incredible patience and perseverance , Saroo, at age 30, using Google Earth's satellite images and Facebook, miraculously locates the train station with the identifying features of his childhood. He notes that a nearby town is called Khandwa and that there is a Facebook group belonging to people from Khandwa. He contacts them and gets the key info that there is a nearby village called Ganesh Talai - the 'Ginestlay' of 5-year-old Saroo! Saroo soon goes to India and reconnects with his birth family to the great delight of his elderly mother Kamala and his siblings Shekila and Kallu, who are now married with children. Sadly, Guddu, his eldest brother whom he adored as a child, was killed in an accident just on the same day that Saroo got lost 25 years before. Otherwise, it is a happy resolution for Saroo.
Not only Saroo, but his Aussie parents, Sue and John as well, come off as wonderful, loving and caring parents and individuals. Sue herself was a WWII refugee from Hungary and her story is also inspring as told it in the book. Saroo's birth mother Kamala is another remarkable woman, who never gave up hope that her son Sheru (which is his correct name!) would return one day. Hence she never moved from the shack where she lived so that she will be there when Saroo comes back! The other heroes in the book are the internet, Google Earth and Facebook! It is a great tribute to these wonderful technologies which make it possible for the adult Saroo to sit ten thousand miles away in Hobart, Australia and exactly locate the water tower and overpass of his childhood memory and find out the correct name of his village. Let no one denounce technology again!
I found the book moving, inspirational and one of hope and the indomitable spirit of the humankind. It is a story of triumph against great odds. Going through the early chapters where Saroo survives for six weeks as a five-year-old in Calcutta, I had palpitations as I felt anxious that nothing terrible should befall young Saroo! The book also has a special appeal for me since I grew up in India and lived for 13 years in wonderful Australia.
When 5-year-old Saroo is accidentally separated from his Indian family at a train station, he ends up surviving on the streets of Kolkata (Calcutta) on his own for 2-3 weeks before being taken to an orphanage. He's quickly adopted by an Australian family, John and Sue Brierley.
Fast-forward 25 years, and Saroo chooses to search for his biological family, which he does with the help of Google Maps, Google Earth and Facebook. In a country of almost 1.3 billion people, he manages to find the three he cares most about.
It's an inspiring story, and one I devoured quickly. My heart broke as he describe the poverty of India, and I cried as he described his adoptive mother and birth mother meeting and embracing for the first time.
The only reason I'm giving it 4 stars is because I feel the writing was bland at times, and some details are repeated over and over again. However, I credit that to Brierly being a first-time writer, and let's be honest—sharing your life's story, especially one as unique as his, can't be an easy task. All in all, I'd recommend the book to anyone.
that I have heartily recommended to others. The
film version was very well done, though I most
always prefer the 'intimacy' of reader and book.
The young boy who played Saroo at five years
surely captured the hearts of all who saw the
film, and the ending of the film was hard to see
through the tears.