Title: Lion (previously published as A Long Way Home: A Memoir)
Author: Saroo Brierley
10-Word Summary: Lost people can still find a place to call home.
Lion is a memoir about a little boy who got lost in India. He tells his story about the way he lived as a child, how he tragically got separated from his family and the way his life evolved after that. It is a compelling and impressive story about getting lost, finding a new family and searching for his way back home.
I know that it’s advisable to read a book and then watch the movie. Well, I did it the other way but not on purpose. I watched the movie “Lion” not knowing much about it and the book behind it. But I found the story so moving that I wanted to read the book too. I loved both, but the book felt a bit more personal and raw than the movie. After all, the book was written by Saroo himself, but the movie was created by an entire team of people who brought in their own influence. If you have the choice, read the book first and then watch the movie!
I want to say that I don’t normally read novels, since I prefer non-fiction books. But I am happy I’ve read this book. I think that what makes it great is that the book seems to be a great representation for life. It is real, it is raw and it is impressive. It talks about danger, fear, loss and pain. But it also talks about compassion, love, hope and luck/grace.
What I like about Lion
First person narrative
Since Saroo tells his own story, he occasionally shares his thoughts about it. For example, when he tells us about his life in India as a child, he often shares his reflection on it as well. He tells the events as they happened, he tells us how the five-year-old version of himself felt and then he add his current perspective. And this dual perspective makes the book feel personal, authentic and compelling.
I’m not sure why, but something about this story felt incredibly authentic. It may be because it is a true story told by Saroo himself, it may be the way he writes or it may be something else. It could also be due to the fact that he vividly remembers certain events and he can portray them in great detail. But this authentic feeling impressed me and made me connect with this book. I have felt a lot of feelings while reading it, including worry, compassion, hope, enthusiasm, sorrow, gratitude and appreciation.
To be honest, I was surprised that the book was so well-written and easy to read. Since Saroo is not a writer, but a person who wants to tell his story, I was impressed with the book. I liked the way it was divided into chapters reflecting the stage in his personal story. You could easily read the entire book on a lazy Sunday.
A story of two worlds
“Lion” was a pleasant surprise because it focused on the cultures of his two worlds: India and Australia. He tells us that his Indian family was poor and they often struggled to make ends meet. And he paints a real and moving picture that reminded me once again how much some people suffer.
But even though he lived in poverty, he was raised by a good, hard-working mother. No matter how challenging her life was, she seemed to gracefully face it all and make the best of what she had. And this humbly reminded me that people like us, who live in “the developed world” should be more grateful for the things we have.
He also tells us about the family that adopted him in Australia. His new family was richer and they could provide him with a better life (as standard of living goes). The way his adoptive mother was determined to take in an orphan child from India shows us how we can use our money to do something good and meaningful.
What I don’t like about Lion
I’ll be honest, I have nothing to complain about. I really enjoyed this book!
Great ideas from Lion
Some of these ideas are directly taken from the book and some of them are my reflections based on what I have read.
You can have a really tough life and still be happy.
There are many people who suffer in the world. You have a choice: ignore them or do something to help them.
“It is difficult to put in words, but I feel that perhaps there is something in the West we have lost in our impersonal suburbs and emphasis on individualism.”
“It is sometimes difficult not to imagine some forces at work that are beyond my understanding.”