“The Orphan Keeper”, written by Camron Wright is actually based on a true story. This book is set in Erode, India in 1978. Chellamuthu and his family live in a hut, a hovel really. His mother and father and siblings live in the one “room”. Kuppaswami, his father, is a hard man, given to drink, and not able to provide much for his family. Arayi, Chellamuthu’s mother, works at a textile factory, which leaves the children home alone for most of the day. Chellamuthu is constantly getting into trouble, running with the wrong crowd, and being generally mischievous. He is only seven years old.
One day, he goes with his father to the marketplace and is told to wait outside the building. Of course, he sees friends and decides to see what they are up to. His “friends” lure him to a waiting van, and throw him inside as the van speeds away. He is scared but notices other children in this van. He is taken to the Lincoln Home for Homeless Children, actually sold to the orphan home. Even though he tells those in charge that he has a family and was taken, they do not try to find them. What follows is the tale of Chellamuthu, his adoption by an American family and his struggle to fit in. His parents change his name to Taj, hoping this will help him adapt better. Meanwhile, his family in India searches every day until they exhaust all avenues and have to give up. Taj wants to go home, but after ten years gives up. After he marries his Indian wife and meets an Indian family, they help him discover the truth of his past. It seems hopeless as they try to find the area from which he was taken and then to trace his actual home. When he actually does find his mother, father and siblings, it is an unbelievable reunion. Eventually both families meet and now Taj has two families.
This book about his journey to find himself and his heritage is heartbreaking in one sense and equally satisfying in another. It shows that although families may not physically stay together, there is a lifelong bond between all members that will never go away.
I received a print copy of this book from Smith Publicity in return for my honest review.