A Long Way Home

A Long Way Home

They've gone.I've been thinking about this day for twenty-five years. Growing up half a world away, with a new name and a new family, wondering whether I would ever see my mother and brothers and sister again. And now here I am, standing at a door near the corner of a run-down building in a poor district of a small, dusty town in central India – the place I grew up – and n...

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Title:A Long Way Home
Author:Saroo Brierley
Rating:
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:288 pages

A Long Way Home Reviews

  • Brenda
    Jul 10, 2013

    When Saroo Brierley was born, he was born into poverty in a small town in India. Of course he wasn’t Saroo Brierley then, and when he became lost he was only five, and could only remember his name was Saroo. His early childhood was happy in his memory. He and his siblings were always hungry, but that was a fact of life. They spent their days begging for food, eating scraps from the ground and doing the best they could. They were the typical impoverished children with big tummys bloated from gas,

    When Saroo Brierley was born, he was born into poverty in a small town in India. Of course he wasn’t Saroo Brierley then, and when he became lost he was only five, and could only remember his name was Saroo. His early childhood was happy in his memory. He and his siblings were always hungry, but that was a fact of life. They spent their days begging for food, eating scraps from the ground and doing the best they could. They were the typical impoverished children with big tummys bloated from gas, thin and malnourished. The four of them lived with their mother, as their father had deserted them to take a second wife. So their hardship was intense. Saroo’s responsibility was to look after his baby sister while their mother worked. Their two older brothers would try to find food, working for a few rupee in hopes of buying enough for a meal.

    The night Saroo’s life began its dramatic and dangerous turn, he had gone with his oldest brother on the pushbike, and was told to wait at the train station for him. After waking from sleep and finding himself alone, he panicked and boarded a train, ultimately finding himself in Calcutta many hours later. The next few weeks were terrifying, lonely and intensely dangerous as he lived on the streets with only his wits to help him, but finally the kindness of a stranger turned his life around.

    When he was adopted by a lovely couple by the name of Brierley and taken to his new home in Hobart in Tasmania, his life was new, strange but wonderful as well. His memories of his home in India were kept alive by his adoptive parents, and his transition into an Australian lifestyle was not the trauma that it was for some.

    The story of Saroo’s life from his very early days in India, the trauma when he was lost, the transportation to Australia and his new life, then his growing up through school, teenage years and beyond, plus the beginning of his serious search for his home town in India with few details is an awe inspiring and inspirational one. His determination along with the love and support of his parents, and the help of strangers is wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It is beautifully told, with the emotions see-sawing throughout. This is a highly recommendable book by an amazing young man who has been willing to share his experiences and his life with us all.

    With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy to read and review.

  • Sharon
    Jun 21, 2014

    At the age of five, Saroo an Indian boy becomes lost after after being separated from his brother. After traveling on a train for quite some time, Saroo ends up in Calcutta. Saroo is not only frightened and alone, but he is also faced with having to scavenge and beg for food for his survival. He has no idea of his surname or the village he comes from which make it extremely difficult to find his way back home. Life is looking very bleak for, Saroo and he worries if he'll ever see his family agai

    At the age of five, Saroo an Indian boy becomes lost after after being separated from his brother. After traveling on a train for quite some time, Saroo ends up in Calcutta. Saroo is not only frightened and alone, but he is also faced with having to scavenge and beg for food for his survival. He has no idea of his surname or the village he comes from which make it extremely difficult to find his way back home. Life is looking very bleak for, Saroo and he worries if he'll ever see his family again.

    After being in an orphanage for some time, Saroo's life takes a turn for the better after being adopted by an Australian couple who take him to live in his new home in Hobart, Tasmania. His adoptive parents are wonderful and loving people who do all they can to make Saroo feel at home. Even though Saroo has settled in very well with his adoptive parents he still thinks about he's family back in India. Will Saroo ever see his family again?

    What a remarkable story about never giving up. This was an inspiring and heartwarming story that I thoroughly enjoyed. I have no hesitation in HIGHLY recommending this book.

  • Laura
    Nov 03, 2014

    This story was amazing and what's more IS it's not a work of fiction, it's TRUE! I have a strong love for non-fiction when stories like this come across as 'one in a million' chances!

    I'm sure everyone has mucked around with Google Earth at some point in their life? Have you known someone who shows super strong interest in it? I do. Saroo used this technology to find his family after years and years of never knowing if he'll ever see his true biological family again. From India to Tasmania,Austra

    This story was amazing and what's more IS it's not a work of fiction, it's TRUE! I have a strong love for non-fiction when stories like this come across as 'one in a million' chances!

    I'm sure everyone has mucked around with Google Earth at some point in their life? Have you known someone who shows super strong interest in it? I do. Saroo used this technology to find his family after years and years of never knowing if he'll ever see his true biological family again. From India to Tasmania,Australia this is a true story worth picking up! You get a glimps into his life as a child in India from when he lived with his family to when he got separated from his brother at the train station on that dreadful day that would change his life for ever. Then the story catches up to the now and how he uses Google Earth to track down things he remembers from his fuzzy childhood memories.

    There was a few things I thought could of been left out as it kinda prolonged things but it didn't bother me that much.

  • PattyMacDotComma
    Feb 01, 2017

    5★

    I remember hearing about this story when it ‘broke’ a few years ago, and then it surfaced again when Nicole Kidman starred in the movie LION, and the rest will, no doubt, be history.

    First, I have to say that although I already knew the bones of the story, as so many potential readers may, it only made the reading that much more enjoyable. Ghost-writer Larry Buttrose isn’t listed on the cover although he’s credited “with Larry Buttrose” inside.

    The Goodreads description is the first four introdu

    5★

    I remember hearing about this story when it ‘broke’ a few years ago, and then it surfaced again when Nicole Kidman starred in the movie LION, and the rest will, no doubt, be history.

    First, I have to say that although I already knew the bones of the story, as so many potential readers may, it only made the reading that much more enjoyable. Ghost-writer Larry Buttrose isn’t listed on the cover although he’s credited “with Larry Buttrose” inside.

    The Goodreads description is the first four introductory pages of the book. It is so long and thorough, you can get a good idea of what it sounds like. (Read that, if you haven't.) Saroo tells his own story, and I think Buttrose has captured his tone and feelings well.

    Saroo (he doesn’t know his last name) is five, gets lost in Calcutta (as Kolkata was then known), is eventually adopted by Aussies in Tasmania, and rediscovers his birth family using Google maps. Each step of his convoluted journey to Australia makes the outcome even more unbelievable. Just surviving was quite an achievement

    His experience makes a wonderful, terrible, terrifying, exhilarating and ultimately satisfying adventure, but there are certainly dark undertones about the children loose on the streets in India. I can’t say they are “neglected”, because that makes it sound as if there’s a choice that they wouldn’t be.

    Saroo’s mother (dad left with a surprise second wife) works carrying stones on her head for construction sites, leaving 5-year-old Saroo at home to mind his even younger little sister while two older brothers beg and scavenge for food. It’s just the way it was (and is). They are always hungry and live in a shed with a cow-pat floor.

    Hindi was his native language, but typical of many small children in desperately poor areas of the world, he had very little vocabulary to work with when he was found. Many refugee children arrive in Australia with little language or smatterings of several but command of none.

    His mum (as he always refers to Sue Brierley), had a violent childhood, but Dad, John Brierley, had a happy upbringing, which gave stability to the family. They were in complete agreement about what they wanted to do together.

    The story moves back and forth, quite naturally, from Saroo’s memories to his searches to today, and it’s amazing how much and how well he remembered. But it wasn’t by accident.

    He replayed everything he did and everywhere he went in his mind, so he wouldn’t forget. As soon as he woke up lost in Calcutta, he tried to replay his memories of accidentally falling asleep on a train so he might figure out where it came from. He hopped on every train he could find, but with no luck.

    Later, growing up in Tasmania, he continued to practice retracing everything in his mind, as a kind of meditation, from walking around his village, to crawling into hiding places (sewer pipes – yuck!), to escaping dogs, sexual predators, and organ collectors! The odds on his surviving intact were slim indeed. But he never forgot all the landmarks he’d committed to memory. At FIVE!

    As I said, knowing these details won’t affect the fun you’ll have reading his story and enjoying the many photos that accompany it. Unfortunately, the adoption process takes longer than it did in the 1980s, but he says it’s quicker if you don’t demand a certain age or gender. If any Aussies are interested:

    I bet there’ll be a surge in demand as more people see the movie, LION, (the meaning of his name, Sheru, in Hindi).

    The Wikipedia article about Larry Buttrose has a nice story about how he worked on the book.

    Terrific book, unbelievable story from an amazing memory, wonderfully told! (Oh, am I gushing?)

  • Maria Espadinha
    Sep 25, 2015

    Destino ou Acidente ?

    A Vida tem daqueles Dias que só nos permitem satisfazer os caprichos de Sua Majestade, El Rei D. Inesperado.

    Ora foi num desses Dias que Saroo, um jovem com apenas 5 anos de idade, se perdeu do seu irmão mais velho , numa estação de comboios.

    Desorientado, sem a ínfima ideia de como regressar a casa, enfia-se num comboio, em busca de Salvação.

    Porém, a ansiada Salvação não chega, e em alternativa, após longas horas de viagem, Saroo vê-se despejado nas ruas de Calcutá!

    E por lá

    Destino ou Acidente ?

    A Vida tem daqueles Dias que só nos permitem satisfazer os caprichos de Sua Majestade, El Rei D. Inesperado.

    Ora foi num desses Dias que Saroo, um jovem com apenas 5 anos de idade, se perdeu do seu irmão mais velho , numa estação de comboios.

    Desorientado, sem a ínfima ideia de como regressar a casa, enfia-se num comboio, em busca de Salvação.

    Porém, a ansiada Salvação não chega, e em alternativa, após longas horas de viagem, Saroo vê-se despejado nas ruas de Calcutá!

    E por lá deambula algumas semanas, sobrevivendo o melhor que pode a Perigos Vários, mal sinalizados. Até que um Anjo que patrulhava os Céus de Calcutá o eleva nas suas asas e o entrega aos cuidados dum orfanato. Mais tarde, é adotado por um casal e parte com eles para a Austrália, onde inicia uma outra vida.

    Embora tenha tomado um Novo Rumo, Saroo nunca esqueceu as suas Raízes!

    Pouco se lembrava dos locais da sua infância.

    Revisitava-os na memória, onde cabiam em fragmentos; parcas peças dum puzzle muito inacabado.

    Só volvidos 25 anos sobre o Fatídico Dia em que se perdera, é que Saroo, com a preciosa ajuda do Google Earth, foi capaz de identificar essas peças que teimavam em assaltar-lhe a memória e finalmente desvendar a solução do puzzle que lhe devolveu as Raízes perdidas!

    Finda esta estória, só nos ocorre agradecer:

    Obrigada Internet!

    Obrigada Google!

    És Aquele Génio da Lâmpada!

    O Exterminador Implacável dos mais Duros Impossíveis!...

    E Vocês? Que pensam de tudo isto?

    Acidente ou Ironia do Destino?...

    Ah! E até anda por aí um filme :

  • Sarah
    Dec 16, 2016

    3.5 Stars.

    I found out about this book when I watched the trailer for the 2016 movie "Lion". The trailer had me in tears and then when I saw it was based on this true story, I knew I had to read this. First of all, it is an incredible and heartbreaking story. I can't even fathom how Saroo, a 5 year old Indian boy survived for weeks on the streets by himself. So many awful things could have happened to him but he was extremely lucky that no major harm came to him and he was even luckier to get ado

    3.5 Stars.

    I found out about this book when I watched the trailer for the 2016 movie "Lion". The trailer had me in tears and then when I saw it was based on this true story, I knew I had to read this. First of all, it is an incredible and heartbreaking story. I can't even fathom how Saroo, a 5 year old Indian boy survived for weeks on the streets by himself. So many awful things could have happened to him but he was extremely lucky that no major harm came to him and he was even luckier to get adopted by an amazing Australian couple. This story will blow you away and the story itself is reason alone to read this book.

    For the most part, Saroo Brierley was a great storyteller. He really told a comprehensive story about his life before he was separated from his family in India. We got to know things about his siblings, his parents, the people that were in his community and all about his life. I enjoyed reading about his life and family in Australia too. I felt at times things were dragged out a bit too much though. The part about riding on the train journey again as an adult and the constant researching kind of bored me at times. I do feel conflicted regarding the way he wrote this memoir; I enjoyed it because it was comprehensive, detailed and logical but I kind of wish he wrote with more emotion. Maybe it was hard for him to really convey past emotions or something but I just felt like there could have been more about his feelings and thoughts. I'm not saying that it wasn't emotional, it was, but I just wanted more. I wanted to feel more connected to Saroo.

    Also something that kind of irked me was the fact that in the book, Saroo says he tells his dad & mom at different times and in person that he found his old hometown but in the 60 minute show (I watched that after I read this) it was said that he texted them in the middle of the night. I know it's something small but it's just if the book version was wrong then what else in the book wasn't the actual truth? Just me being a particular Sally, I know, but it did kind of bother me!

    So overall, I liked this book. At times it was a little slow and there were a few redundant things in the book but I would definitely recommend this. I will watch the movie soon and hopefully I will like it as much as I liked this.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “She described it as sometimes feeling so disoriented that she didn’t know where the sky ended and the ground began.”

  • Jennifer
    Jan 05, 2017

    is

    's personal account of finding himself tragically lost from his family at the young age of 5 years old. His journey back to his birth mother 25 years later is a truly amazing story. The fact that he survived before (and after) being discovered as homeless is a miracle in itself. Despite my thoughts about the astonishing facts, I have mixed feelings about this reading experience. In my perspective, this memoir was very to-the-point and caused it to feel disappoint

    is

    's personal account of finding himself tragically lost from his family at the young age of 5 years old. His journey back to his birth mother 25 years later is a truly amazing story. The fact that he survived before (and after) being discovered as homeless is a miracle in itself. Despite my thoughts about the astonishing facts, I have mixed feelings about this reading experience. In my perspective, this memoir was very to-the-point and caused it to feel disappointingly one-dimensional. A little help with the writing and overall storytelling could have added personality and allowed this piece of nonfiction to pull at the heartstrings and keep the reader on the edge of suspense, because when you think about Saroo's experiences, those emotions are within reach. I plan to watch the film adaptation:

    and have no doubt it will more than make up for my lack of connection to the book. Regardless,

    is a story to be heard and I don't regret reading it.

  • Kirsti (Melbourne on my mind)
    Jan 29, 2017

    Good Lord. FEELINGS.

    This book is effectively two separate stories:

    1. How Saroo got lost and ended up being adopted by an Australian family.

    2. Saroo's search for his home 20 years later.

    The first story is horrifying when you think about all the ways that his story could have ended differently. The second is nothing short of astonishing. Not only that he managed to find a needle in a haystack on Google Earth, but that his mother had made the decision to stay in the same neighbourhood for 20+ year

    Good Lord. FEELINGS.

    This book is effectively two separate stories:

    1. How Saroo got lost and ended up being adopted by an Australian family.

    2. Saroo's search for his home 20 years later.

    The first story is horrifying when you think about all the ways that his story could have ended differently. The second is nothing short of astonishing. Not only that he managed to find a needle in a haystack on Google Earth, but that his mother had made the decision to stay in the same neighbourhood for 20+ years on the off chance that her son found his way home again.

    I'm pretty stinking excited to see the movie version now to compare the two. Although I think I'll hold off until I can watch it in the comfort of my own home with a very large box of tissues and no one to judge me for sobbing periodically...

  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    Feb 07, 2017

    Find all of my reviews at:

    will probably end up as a selection on all the lists featuring inspirational stories and here I go giving it a 2 Star. What can I say?????

    The first sign that this probably wasn't going to be a great book is the fact that the blurb wasn't even a blurb, but rather the opening pages of the story. That should have served as my warning, but I was all about reading errrrrry book that went from “Read to Reel” and I didn’t eve

    Find all of my reviews at:

    will probably end up as a selection on all the lists featuring inspirational stories and here I go giving it a 2 Star. What can I say?????

    The first sign that this probably wasn't going to be a great book is the fact that the blurb wasn't even a blurb, but rather the opening pages of the story. That should have served as my warning, but I was all about reading errrrrry book that went from “Read to Reel” and I didn’t even bother looking into this one at all before requesting it. Plus, the movie has received about eleventy Oscar nominations so it had to be decent, right? Wellllllllllllllllllllllll, the story was . . . . it was just terribly written and could have easily been an article in a Newsweek or Time type of publication rather than a nearly 300 page book.

    is about a boy named Saroo, who at five years old becomes lost from his family and winds up on the other side of India. Not knowing his last name and only that he lived in a place that sounded something like “Berampur,” Saroo is labeled lost by the Indian government and winds up adopted by an Australian family. As an adult Saroo becomes a bit obsessed and uses Google maps to walk the various train tracks in hopes of spotting something familiar that will reconnect him with his past . . . .

    There you have it. It’s quite clear immediately that Saroo Brierley is no writer (and if

    calling it out, you know it must be bad) and the fact that he was only five years old when he became lost meant hardly any details of his story were remembered. This could have been a much more comprehensive tale if it wasn’t so one-dimensional and used contributions from his families (in both Australia and India) as well as the juvenile detention facility and orphanage to help make it feel more complete.

    I have a feeling this is one of the rare occasions where the movie will surpass the book. I mean, just look at this child . . . .

    I hate kids and I even kind of want to kidnap that one.

  • Lauren Cecile
    Feb 06, 2017

    Beautiful, poignant memoir!