It is hard to believe that 5 year old Saroo Brierley could survive lost in the crowded streets of Calcutta. Somehow, this brave boy not only survived but recalled landmarks as he searched for his home via google maps many years later from Australia. This is a story of bravery, tenacity, love and a bit of luck which brought a family back together.
Saroo lived in poverty with his mother and siblings. Their father had abandoned the family. His mother worked long hours to support her children, leaving the older children to care for the little ones. Saroo joined his brother at the train station and was told to wait for his brother to return. He didn’t return and in an effort to find him, Saroo boarded a train ending up lost in the myriad of tracks and finding himself alone in Calcutta. He searched for his brother and a way home and narrowly escaped numerous dangerous situations before being taken to an orphanage.
After unsuccessful attempts to reunite him with his family, Saroo was placed with an Australian couple. He flew to Tasmania and grew up being cared for and educated with the love of his parents and adopted brother. Although he experienced a happy childhood he always wondered about his birth family. He began to search using google maps which was painstakingly slow at first but became easier as internet connection and speed improved. He virtually followed train tracks from Calcutta, eventually widening his search and amazingly recognizing a station and finding his home.
Lion has been made into an Oscar nominated film which I am interested in watching after hearing the story. Although I had a copy of the book, I actually listened to the audio version which was well-read (although I was disappointed to discover that the narrator was not the author himself). Lion is a story which has a happy ending despite tragedy, loss and separation. It promotes hope, love, perseverance and the strength of family bonds yet the reader realizes how lucky this little boy was, not only to have survived but to have a happy childhood and be reunited with his family.