I’m always curious about strange and unexplained events so when I came across a headline on the Internet that read “True Stories Stranger Than Fiction,” I immediately clicked on the link. That’s how I discovered the book, A Long Way Home.
At only five years old, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write or recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an agency and adopted by a couple in Australia.
Despite his gratitude, Brierley always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the needle in a haystack he once called home, and pore over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his family.
A Long Way Home is a moving, poignant, and inspirational true story of survival and triumph against incredible odds. It celebrates the importance of never letting go of what drives the human spirit: hope.
I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but when I stumbled upon the story of Saroo Brierly and learned he had written a book, I immediately checked it out through my local library. The story didn’t disappoint.
In 1986, five-year-old Saroo lived in India along with his family—his mother, two older brothers, and a younger sister. Abandoned by their father, they lived in poverty. His mother worked hard to support her family, but there was never enough to go around, and they often went hungry. The older brothers picked up work whenever they could and Saroo was often left to care for his little sister.
Despite the hardships, they were a close family. On a rare occasion when all gathered for dinner, Saroo accompanied his older brother where they boarded a train to “Berampur.” When they got off at the station, Guddu told Saroo to wait and that “he would be back in a little while.”
Guddu never returned. Somewhat panicked (what would you expect from a five-year-old) Saroo boarded a train in hopes to find his brother or get back home. Instead, he found himself in a locked car and traveled to the city of Calcutta (now) Kolkota. There he wandered the streets for three weeks before being placed in an orphanage.
Uneducated and unable to communicate the name of his home, he was willingly placed for adoption. A couple in Australia adopted him, and he grew up in a loving home in Tasmania. He loved his “Mum and Dad,” but Saroo often wondered about his family in India. As an adult, he began a painstaking search for his hometown using Google Earth images. Twenty-five years later, he found his home and eventually his family.
A Long Way Home is a story of courage, hope, and a reminder that we should never give up our dreams.
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