Title: Lion: A Long Way Home
Author: Saroo Brierley
Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia
RRP: $16.99

Saroo Brierley was only five years old when he became lost on a train in India. He travelled many hours to Kolkata, originally named Calcutta. Speaking only Hindi he was not only lost, but also unable to speak Bengali, the language of Kolkata. Saroo spent many weeks trying to survive on the streets. For a five year old in an overcrowded city with many homeless children, this was am amazing feat. He came across many dangers and escaped many times. He also experienced good fortune, such as being saved from drowning in the Hooghly River by the same man, twice. After meeting an older boy, he was taken to a police station in the hope they might find his family. During the search time he was in a juvenile detention centre. After no success he was sent to an orphanage, where Mrs Sood arranged his adoption to a family in far away Tasmania, Australia.

This is the Saroo’s story adapted for younger readers. It not only traces his early life in India, but also his adoption and life in Australia, his quest and determination to find his birth family. This book makes Saroo’s story accessible to younger readers. Readers will learn how love and determination can change one’s life. There are facets in this book that may be a little confronting for some readers, such as Saroo’s circumcision, but in no way is it inappropriate for younger readers. Instead, it offers a story of survival, hope, determination and love. I will use this for booktalks many times in the future and hope that by reading this book, young readers will progress to other memoirs throughout their reading life.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Australia for supplying this book for review.

Booktalk

Were you ever lost when you were little? In a shopping centre, in a crowded place? Can you imagine being lost in a large, overcrowded city, knowing you are far from home? I would find that incredibly scary now, as an adult, and would find it incredible for a five-year-old boy, but that is exactly what happened to Saroo Brierley. Born to a poor family in India Saroo usually had the task of looking after his baby sister while his mother went to work as a labourer on building sites. His older brothers often went away for work and to fend for the family. One day Saroo convinced his brother Gudda to join him. After travelling to a nearby town by train, Gudda left Saroo to rest and he fell asleep on a bench. When he awoke it was dark and his brother had not yet come back. There was a train in front of him. Was this Gudda’s train?

Read page 26 ‘I was scared to find myself alone at night and still half-asleep…’ to page 28 ‘I was trapped’.

The train travels to Kolkata where Saroo lives for some time on the streets. Here he faces many dangers such as deciding to sleep near a large group of children.

Read page 38 from ‘The children weren’t welcoming, but they didn’t chase me off either…’ to the end of the chapter.

Saroo also comes across good fortune, and when a teenager takes him to a police station, his life is about to change forever. This is his story of becoming lost and adopted, and finally his remarkable determination in finding his hometown and his birth family again.

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