Book Review: Little Princes by Conor Grennan

Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal
Conor Grennan
William Morrow, January 2011
ISBN 9780061930058

Conor Grennan signed up to work in an orphanage in Nepal so that he could, at some point, impress other people with this item on his resume.  He’s pretty up-front about this, as well as his total unpreparedness for dealing with children, especially children in Nepal.  The lack of table utensils throws him for a loop, for example.  He comes to love these kids, and promises them (against the advice of every other adult connected to the orphanage) that he WILL come back and see them.  And he does.  His life is changed by this experience.

Conor learns that these orphans are the result of child trafficking  The children have been given, along with money, to a man so that they would not be conscripted into the Maoist armies fighting in the northwest part of Nepal.  The man promises these families their children will be educated, fed, and taken care of; he then abandons them or sells them in Katmandu.   He is stunned when one of the mothers comes to Katmandu looking for, and finds, her child.

Conor decides to set up his own orphanage, along with a man he worked with at the Little Princes Children’s Home.  Their first group of children is all set to be delivered when disaster strikes.  The man who brought them to Katmandu discovers Conor’s plan and spirits the seven children away.  Conor decides he must find them all, and bring them to his orphanage.  Then he decides that he must try to find their families and, if possible, reunite them.  Can you say Don Quixote?

Fans of Three Cups of Tea will find some major similarities between these two books.  Grennan is honest, not just about himself and his flaws, but about the realities he must deal with in Nepal.  His growing relationship with a woman from New York is chronicled, mixed in with his discoveries about what he wants to do with his life.  All in all, an uplifting without being dull, amusing without belittling the overall situation, very readable book.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, February 2011.

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