Do you ever get that amazing feeling where something so awesome happens that you want to squeal out loud, dance around and and do a fist pump? If that kind of thing ever happens to you, Saroo Brierley’s story is sure to bring on one of those moments. It might even bring on your first such experience.
A Long Way Home is the incredible memoir of Saroo Brierley’s very uncommon life story. The book recounts for us the tale of how, as a five year old, poor, malnourished boy, he got separated from his older brother during a layover at a train station in a town that was not his own. Miraculously, after ending up in Calcutta (Now Kolkata) he was put into the custody of an adoption agency who found a family for him in Tasmania. As a grown man, Saroo then decided to try to piece together the memories from that fateful night and find his way back to his hometown.
Mr Brierley succeeds admirably in painting a vivid picture of his early life. The circumstances in which he, his mother and his siblings lived felt very real, even though the memories were being recalled from 25 years in the past, when he was four and five years old. He also pieces the facts together in a way that kept me turning the pages in anticipation of what happened next, what else he remembered, or even just because the details were tremendously interesting.
The reason that I have withheld a five star rating is because of the maturity of the writing style. At times I found the information redundant or over-simplified. Occasionally the explanations for why he reasoned one thing or another were unclear. I especially noticed these things in the writing following his reunion with his birth mother. Perhaps because I was past all the anticipation of finding his family, which carried me swiftly over the words so there was no time to infringe on my conscious thoughts— I was reading much more thoughtfully.
In the midst of the intense subject matter: poverty, family, fear, trauma etc. There were some beautiful and funny moments as well. Moments that makes the whole journey worthwhile. Those moments left me with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes (and squeals, dancing and fist pumps perhaps). A Long Way Home is a beautiful story of hope, love, healing and miracles. And every one needs all of those in their lives from time to time.
Penguin Canada (via NetGalley) gave me a copy of this book for review purposes.