This is one of those heartrending books that are a delight to read. I bought it at the bookshop, Under the Silver Tree in Broken Hill. It was recommended to me by the manager and I am grateful to her. Having completely forgotten to write my blog last week I felt it would be a good book to tell you all to read.
The reason this book is heartrending is because the author is lost on the streets of Kolkata as a five year old. He tries really hard to find his way home without any success. His search included taking every train from the station in Kolkata outward bound looking for the familiar station. It’s a challenge, he doesn’t know his surname, his address or even the name of the town he lives in, nor can he read. He’s picked up and taken to an orphanage where he agrees to be adopted by a couple in Tasmania. The orphanage to try to find his family, but with little to go on they don’t succeed.
Brierley grows up remembering his birth family and is encouraged to keep as much of his Indian heritage as possible. Twenty five years later Brierley uses Google Earth to find his hometown. He spends many hours looking closely at images of India, working his way through the train lines from Kolkata outwards. He eventually finds the right place by accident. He’d travelled much further than he’d expected.
Having found the right place he flew back to India and met with his mother and his two siblings. This is when my tears flowed. His mother was so sure he’d come back to them. My heart was in my mouth all the time he was lost, but I only cried when he went back home. A journey twenty five years in the making. I do not know how his mother kept going, year after year.
The book is written quite simply. There is little artifice here to keep us engaged, it’s not needed, the story does it quite nicely without any bells and whistles. I did struggle to put it down, but sleep is also necessary. I’ve made no notes, as taking time out to write notes would detract from the reading of this book.
One thing I really loved is how Brierley has managed to unite his birth family with his adopted family. It is lovely to see everyone understand and applaud every person’s role in his life.
I totally recommend this book. It would be great for book clubs as you could discuss different cultures and how some people absolutely need to give their kids more freedom than ours. I won’t patronise you by telling you what else you could discuss. Instead I’ll give you a link to look at the book. You can also buy it through this link, but that is your choice. I do want to thank all the people who have clicked in the last two weeks, you’ve excelled yourselves and it’s made me very happy.