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Author: Saroo Brierly
Genres: biography, Australian biographies
Published: June 24th 2013 by Penguin Aus. Imprint:Viking
Length: 288 pages
More info on Goodreads
Available on Amazon
"When Saroo Brierley used Google Earth to find his long-lost home town half a world away, he made global headlines. Saroo had become lost on a train in India at the age of five. Not knowing the name of his family or where he was from, he survived for weeks on the streets of Kolkata, before being taken into an orphanage and adopted by a couple in Australia. Despite being happy in his new family, Saroo always wondered about his origins. He spent hours staring at the map of India on his bedroom wall. When he was a young man the advent of Google Earth led him to pore over satellite images of the country for landmarks he recognised. And one day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for. Then he set off on a journey to find his mother."
At only 5 years old, Saroo Brierly ends up lost and alone somewhere in India. I can't even image the horrible, terrible, heartbreaking feeling he must've experienced.
Saroo spends a few weeks living alone on the streets of Calcutta (AS A 5 YEAR OLD!) before he is swooped up and placed at an orphanage by some really nice people (after avoiding being swooped up by some not-so-nice people). But, his experiences there at the orphanage aren't that much better than the terrors he experienced while homeless. Not only were orphans placed in the home, but also juvenile criminals and those with developmental disabilities.
Boy, this book hit me in all my soft spots - his family life was one of struggle after his father left his mother. His mother, Kamla, began working hard, extremely laborious jobs, often for many days at a time, just to support Saroo and his three siblings.
And Saroo wasn't even really an orphan. He was just L O S T, and I can't help by cry for him - why couldn't he just get back to his family?
As a result of his getting lost so far away from home, the orphanage was unable to find his family despite many efforts. Saroo's 5 year old mind just didn't have enough details to give the authorities, and what he did know, he couldn't communicate very well.
Saroo ends up getting adopted (very quickly) by a couple from Australia. His memoir details what it was like to grow up Australian. He tells us that he was just like any other teenager who had hopes and dreams and was a bit rebellious. He grew up Australian so it is no surprise that he identifies more strongly as Australian than Indian, but what struck me the most was that he did not have any interest in exploring his heritage until his later college years.
Saroo's story is mostly an amalgam of his retelling of his harsh life in India, his life at home with the Brierlys, and the reconnection with his family in India.
It's shocking to me that he is able to recall so many details from such a young age. At any rate, the moving and remarkable retelling of Saroo's destiny/luck/fate in locating his hometown via Google Maps is captivating and engaging. Despite many other Goodreads reviews that suggest some writing help, I found Saroo's storytelling intriguing.
I plan on watching the film adaptation (watch the trailer here) soon. I've heard it's just as good, but WE SHALL SEE!
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