Imagine being lost on the streets of Calcutta, India. The pain of hunger nagging at your stomach every day. The weight of your own survival resting on your shoulders. The feeling of being alone even though you are surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of people every day. Hard to imagine? Well, Saroo Brierley had to live through this when he was only 5 years old. He paints a picture of confidence and perseverance in his novel, Lion, A Long Way Home.
Saroo was born in 1981 in Khandwa, India. He lived in a small house with his mother, older brothers Guddu and Kallu, and younger sister, Shekila. As a young boy, he went through more than any of us could even imagine in a full lifetime. His life changed when he was separated from his brother and, while searching for him, he boarded a train that took him thousands of miles away from home. The train that took him away from his childhood. Once he reached Calcutta, he escaped the train and fended for himself for several months, alone as a young child.
Most of the time, one imagines a childhood being filled with playful memories and fun fantasies. Saroo’s was the exact opposite. Saroo was placed in an orphanage that didn’t feel much different than living on the streets of Calcutta. He was later adopted by a couple from Australia. Imagine losing your family and not knowing if you’re ever going to see them again. Having a tiny bit of hope, but it gradually fades over the years.
But, the hope never truly left. He used an up to date software to find an old fashioned home.
I thought the book was an incredible and heartwarming story that teaches a perfect lesson that you don’t have to wear a cape to be a hero. Saroo brought hope to those who have none with his persistence in attempting to find his family. I read the Young Reader’s edition that would be great for kids 8-9 and up. The back of the book contained photographs from Saroo’s early life in Calcutta. It transformed the semi accurate pictures in my mind to reality. This novel is a biography, mapping Saroo’s journey to find his family. There is also a major motion picture, Lion that is based on the book. It recently came out in November 2016 and is rated PG 13.