Lion by Saroo Brierly

lion

This book was originally published under the title “A Long Way Home”.

It is said that it’s better to read the book before you see the film, but in the case of this book I would definitely recommend the film over the book. Having been very moved by the film, a true story of an incredible series of events which led a tiny Indian child from his home village, to eventual adoption in Australia and concludes with his search to find his original family, I couldn’t wait to get the book on which the film was based.

This story of a life does indeed prove that fact is stranger than fiction. So, all the ingredients were there for a cracking good read. I was prepared to go through a rollercoaster of emotions, following the journey of this little lost boy, through the trials he endured, and moving on to his uprooting from India and being transplanted to Australia. The tale unfolds there with his incredibly nurturing adoptive parents providing him with a stable and loving home. However, the longing for his family of original just won’t be denied and he takes on a seemingly impossible task, to find his original home.

So, why does the book leave me cold? There is a degree of detachment in Brierley’s writing that makes it evident that his collaborator on the project, Larry Rose did much of the text. This is an opportunity lost, we never really get to the heart of Saroo, the work is descriptive rather than engaging us with the emotions and thoughts of the subject of the memoir. On the positive side, the photos perform what the writing doesn’t; they made real the participants. However, the emotion conveyed in the final scenes of the film, with actual footage of the real people involved, is never matched by this well-meaning, but ultimately unsatisfying book. Watch the film!

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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