A Long Way Home

by

Saroo Brierley

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on A Long Way Home can help.

Mum / Sue Brierley Character Analysis

Mum (Sue Brierley) is Saroo’s adoptive mother. She grew up in a home with a volatile father, and her early experiences helped her form the opinion that there’s nothing particularly special about families formed by biological parents and their biological children. This belief was also influenced by a vision she had at age twelve in which she saw a brown-skinned child standing next to her. Later, when she met and married Dad, she insisted that adoption was the only path she was willing to pursue to create a family. She and Dad decide to adopt from India because of the exorbitantly high rates of child mortality and illness in the country. She believes deeply in helping others, particularly those less fortunate and from developing countries. She and Dad also make a habit of sponsoring children. Mum and Dad wait sixteen years to adopt, and they shower Saroo with love and affection upon his arrival. Mum is one of the first people with whom Saroo shares his story of becoming lost, and she records some of Saroo’s observations about his hometown and journey to Calcutta on a hand-drawn map. Two years later, she and Dad adopt Mantosh. It takes two years to complete the process, and the stress of it makes Mum very ill. This experience convinces Mum that adoption should be much easier, especially since Mantosh experienced neglect and abuse during that two-year time. When Saroo begins to search seriously for his hometown and his Indian family, he worries about telling Mum because he doesn’t want to threaten her deep belief in the “realness” of their family. Later, thanks to 60 Minutes, Mum and Kamla finally meet.

Mum / Sue Brierley Quotes in A Long Way Home

The A Long Way Home quotes below are all either spoken by Mum / Sue Brierley or refer to Mum / Sue Brierley. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Family Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of A Long Way Home published in 2013.
1. Remembering Quotes

"Me begot!" Later she found out I was upset that I had forgotten the way to the school near my Indian home, where I used to watch the students. We agreed that it probably didn't matter anymore. But deep down, it mattered to me. My memories were all I had of my past, and privately I thought about them over and over, trying to ensure that I didn't "beget."

Related Characters: Saroo Brierley (speaker), Mum / Sue Brierley
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

Mum and Dad were very affectionate, right from the start, always giving me lots of cuddles and making me feel safe, secure, loved, and, above all, wanted. That meant a lot to a child who'd been lost and had experienced what it was like for no one to care about him.

Related Characters: Saroo Brierley (speaker), Mum / Sue Brierley, Dad / John Brierley
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:
5. A New Life Quotes

Apparently, in the end, the delight I took in having abundant food close at hand overcame most matters of taste or culture.

Related Characters: Saroo Brierley (speaker), Mum / Sue Brierley
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

I was keen on the idea of having a sibling. In fact, it seemed that the person I missed most from India was my sister. "What do you want for Christmas?" my mum would ask me every year. "I want Shekila back," I often said.

Related Characters: Saroo Brierley (speaker), Mum / Sue Brierley (speaker), Mantosh, Shekila
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:
6. My Mum's Journey Quotes

Because of all she'd been through growing up, Mum had decided that there was nothing sacrosanct about families formed only by birth parents.

Related Characters: Saroo Brierley (speaker), Mum / Sue Brierley, Josef, Julie
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

Mum was delighted when the word came through but also calm: somewhere inside her, she'd always felt that the vision she'd had at the age of twelve had meant it was her destiny to have an adopted child by her side.

Related Characters: Saroo Brierley (speaker), Mum / Sue Brierley, Dad / John Brierley
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:

She is an advocate of replacing Australia's various state laws on intercountry adoption with a simplified federal law. She's critical of governments making it too difficult to adopt and feels that if it was a little easier, maybe more families would do it.

Related Characters: Saroo Brierley (speaker), Mum / Sue Brierley, Dad / John Brierley
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:
9. Finding Home Quotes

Mum had such a dedicated belief in adoption and the authentic family that adoption created. I was worried about how my news would affect her, and I wanted to reassure her that of course they would always be my parents.

Related Characters: Saroo Brierley (speaker), Mum / Sue Brierley, Dad / John Brierley
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:
10. Meeting My Mother Quotes

Even at this first meeting, she told me she was grateful to my parents who had raised me in Australia, and that they had the right to call me their son because they had raised me from a child and made me the man I was today. Her only concern for me, she said, was that I should have the very best life I could.

Related Characters: Saroo Brierley (speaker), Kamla (speaker), Mum / Sue Brierley, Dad / John Brierley
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:
12. Reaching Out Quotes

And even though it was exhausting to go over my story again and again with the media, I thought I had a kind of duty to do it, because it might help people—what had happened to me was remarkable, and might offer hope to others who wanted to find their lost family but thought it impossible.

Related Characters: Saroo Brierley (speaker), Mum / Sue Brierley, Kamla
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:
Epilogue Quotes

I am astonished at the miraculous turns in my story—my mum's vision that led her to intercountry adoption, My Indian mother praying and seeing an image of me the day before we were reunited...It is sometimes difficult not to imagine some forces at work that are beyond my understanding.

Related Characters: Saroo Brierley (speaker), Mum / Sue Brierley, Kamla
Page Number: 273
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire A Long Way Home LitChart as a printable PDF.
A Long Way Home PDF

Mum / Sue Brierley Character Timeline in A Long Way Home

The timeline below shows where the character Mum / Sue Brierley appears in A Long Way Home. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1. Remembering
Memory, Technology, and Friendship Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Childhood Theme Icon
Saroo grows up in Hobart, Tasmania (an island state of Australia). His Mum puts a map of India on Saroo's wall to make him feel at home when... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Mum and Dad aren't sure how Saroo got lost. All anyone knows at first is that... (full context)
Memory, Technology, and Friendship Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Childhood Theme Icon
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Often, Saroo, Mum, and Dad visit an Indian couple, Saleen and Jacob. They speak Hindi with Saroo and... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Human Kindness Theme Icon
...he knows he has to take any opportunities that allow him to survive and thrive. Mum and Dad make Saroo feel loved, safe, and wanted. He keeps his thoughts and memories... (full context)
Memory, Technology, and Friendship Theme Icon
...to speak. He tells Saleen about his family, and a year after his arrival, tells Mum about how poor his family was. They talk about his neighborhood and together, and draw... (full context)
Memory, Technology, and Friendship Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Childhood Theme Icon
Saroo explains that he told Mum and his teacher about the memories he'd held onto since his arrival. There are some... (full context)
5. A New Life
Family Theme Icon
Human Kindness Theme Icon
...feels very shy, he immediately recognizes the Brierleys. He still has his chocolate. He hugs Mum and Dad, and Mum cleans the chocolate off of his hand. They can't talk to... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Destiny, Chance, and Luck Theme Icon
Mum scrubs Saroo in the bathtub. Later, they find that he has a heart murmur and... (full context)
Memory, Technology, and Friendship Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Childhood Theme Icon
Destiny, Chance, and Luck Theme Icon
...of the new house is Saroo’s bedroom, as he’s never had a room to himself. Mum has pinned a map of India in it and laid out warm clothes appropriate for... (full context)
Destiny, Chance, and Luck Theme Icon
Mum teaches Saroo to swim very quickly, and Saroo loves being able to enjoy the outdoors.... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Childhood Theme Icon
...struggles with the fact that he can’t answer his classmates’ questions about where he’s from. Mum finally attends a parent-student day and explains Saroo’s adoption to his classmates. Saroo says he... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Memory, Technology, and Friendship Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Childhood Theme Icon
Saroo loves all his teachers at school and applies himself to academics. When he’s ten, Mum and Dad adopt another child from India. Saroo is thrilled; he’d been saying for years... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Childhood Theme Icon
Destiny, Chance, and Luck Theme Icon
Just as they did the first time, Mum and Dad ask for any child of any age or gender, and they get a... (full context)
Memory, Technology, and Friendship Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Childhood Theme Icon
...ones—women in positions of authority aren’t common in India. Saroo struggles with this too, but Mum quickly puts Saroo in his place. (full context)
Memory, Technology, and Friendship Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Childhood Theme Icon
Though Mum feels guilty for not being able to give Saroo as much attention now, Saroo is... (full context)
6. My Mum's Journey
Family Theme Icon
Memory, Technology, and Friendship Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Childhood Theme Icon
...the choice to adopt two children internationally, with no preference for gender, age, or circumstance. Mum was born in Tasmania to central European immigrants, both of whom emigrated after World War... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Childhood Theme Icon
Destiny, Chance, and Luck Theme Icon
Mum’s father, Josef, was born in Poland. His mother died when he was little, and his... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Childhood Theme Icon
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Mum described Josef as being huge, powerful, and scary, as his moods could shift instantly from... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Memory, Technology, and Friendship Theme Icon
Mum left school at 16 per Josef’s insistence, and she got a job as a pharmacy... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Human Kindness Theme Icon
...stayed in Burnie long enough to propose and get married. They moved to Hobart, and Mum celebrated her 21st birthday in her own house several years after. (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Mum was very affected by Josef’s ensuing downfall. He went bankrupt twice and was eventually sent... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Destiny, Chance, and Luck Theme Icon
In part because of the political shifts happening in Australia after the sixties, Mum and Dad were very interested in “alternative” ideas. They, like others, were worried about overpopulation... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Human Kindness Theme Icon
...Tasmania at that time, state law prohibited couples who were able to conceive from adopting. Mum and Dad settled for sponsoring children overseas and otherwise enjoying their good fortune. Sixteen years... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Destiny, Chance, and Luck Theme Icon
Because Mum and Dad didn’t have a preference on age or sex, they received word that Saroo... (full context)
7. Growing Up
Memory, Technology, and Friendship Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Childhood Theme Icon
Destiny, Chance, and Luck Theme Icon
...nothing to do with being adopted and everything to do with being a teen. Eventually, Mum and Dad give Saroo an ultimatum: leave school before Year 12 to work, go to... (full context)
8. Resuming the Search
Family Theme Icon
...relationship with his girlfriend sours and they soon break up. Saroo moves back in with Mum and Dad and is very depressed until an old friend, Byron, invites Saroo to move... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...she also recognizes that he’s obsessed. Saroo doesn’t tell many people about his search, especially Mum and Dad. He doesn’t want them to think he’s unhappy with his life they gave... (full context)
9. Finding Home
Family Theme Icon
Memory, Technology, and Friendship Theme Icon
Human Kindness Theme Icon
...the first step towards doing something about his discovery. A little while later, Saroo tells Mum. He worries about upsetting her, especially since she so firmly believes in their family. He... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Memory, Technology, and Friendship Theme Icon
The next day, Mum tells Saroo that when she looked at the map they’d drawn when he was a... (full context)
Memory, Technology, and Friendship Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Childhood Theme Icon
...order to answer his questions, but he feels some of the same anxiety that made Mum and Dad cancel the trip to India when Saroo was a child. (full context)
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Lisa backs down immediately, but Mum and Dad argue more. Finally, Saroo convinces them that he must go alone. It takes... (full context)
10. Meeting My Mother
Family Theme Icon
Human Kindness Theme Icon
...what happened when he got lost. She makes it very clear that she’s grateful to Mum and Dad for raising Saroo to be the man he is today, and she insists... (full context)
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Destiny, Chance, and Luck Theme Icon
...accept that he’ll never know the full truth. Before he goes to bed, he texts Mum and Dad the news, and tells them that Kamla thanks them for raising him. (full context)
12. Reaching Out
Family Theme Icon
Human Kindness Theme Icon
...that now, he’ll have to figure out how he fits into both families across cultures. Mum, Dad, and Lisa are thrilled to hear all about meeting his family and seem especially... (full context)
13. Returning
Family Theme Icon
Human Kindness Theme Icon
...to see Saroo. Though she’s in her eighties, she remembers Saroo perfectly. She inquires after Mum and Kamla, and then asks a social worker, Mrs. Medhora, to find Saroo’s file. (full context)
Destiny, Chance, and Luck Theme Icon
Saroo thinks of Mum, who is still very frustrated with how difficult adoption can be, especially after her experience... (full context)
Epilogue
Family Theme Icon
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Destiny, Chance, and Luck Theme Icon
The television program 60 Minutes proposes introducing Kamla and Mum on camera as part of a piece on Saroo’s experiences. Saroo wonders if Mum might... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Childhood Theme Icon
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Destiny, Chance, and Luck Theme Icon
...there’s certainly an element of destiny in how things played out. He knows too that Mum and Dad wouldn’t wish that their lives had gone any differently, and he explains that... (full context)