Monday, January 16, 2012

Little Princes by Conor Grennan

Every now and then, a gal reads a book that sends her into a complete reviewing tizzy, certain there's no way to express just how much she loved it, much less describe its worth in a way that it deserves. Little Princes is one of those books and the main reason I opted to step away from the computer for a few days. It's that good.

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal is the full title. Okay. Deep breath.

At 29, Conor Grennan decided he needed a change of pace and decided to take a year off from work to travel the world. He began his journey with a 3-month volunteer job at an orphanage called Little Princes Children's Home in Nepal. Since the author had no friends who had children or little nieces and nephews, he was not the slightest bit experienced with children. He was clueless about what he was getting into.

As anyone who has been around children knows, they're both challenging and rewarding to care for. What's remarkable about Grennan is that he went into a job that involved a great deal of personal discomfort and, rather than portray himself as heroic for doing so, he's completely honest about how he felt. He was overwhelmed, hungry, cold and not certain he'd made the right choice. But, even more admirable is his transformation. From a man who knew nothing about children and was perplexed as to why they climbed on him like a tree, he emerged an advocate who cared deeply about the children with whom he'd spent three months of his life.

It didn't take long for Grennan to find out that the children he came to love had been trafficked -- taken from their parents for large sums of money with the promise that they would be safe, educated and cared for after being taken from the war-torn region of Humla to Kathmandu. Instead of being treated as promised, they were abused, enslaved or simply dumped to fend for themselves. But, it wasn't till he returned from the remainder of his year-long round-the-world trip that the author became aware of the full story -- that in spite of war, the children were not necessarily orphans.

I don't want to go into too much detail because the book is worth buying, reading and passing around. But, there was a particular man responsible for much of the child trafficking and once Grennan and another man from Little Princes discovered seven children in need of a rescue, things began to change. When he returned to the U.S. and found out the rescued children had disappeared, Grennan altered his plans completely. He went from being a temporary volunteer who loved a bunch of children enough to return for a visit (but who planned to resume his career) to a man with a mission.

Determined to find the missing children, for whom he felt responsible, Grennan founded a non-profit organization, raised funds and returned to Nepal to find the missing, make a home for them, and locate the parents he now knew still lived without any knowledge of what had become of their offspring.

I cannot say enough good things about Little Princes. The author's writing offers readers a rare combination of humility, charm, self-effacing humor and sincerity. His story is deeply moving and yet his writing style is absolutely lovely and light. You can't help but wish you knew him. In addition to being an adventure with the occasional dangerous hike or encounter with the wrong people and a story of the stunning difference one man can make, Little Princes is has a touch of romance as Grennan met a fellow volunteer and fell in love.

Geez, talk about a sap. I have tears in my eyes just thinking about this book! Little Princes is the best kind of memoir. I laughed; I cried. Highly recommended. Buying the book can even make you feel a little valiant because a portion of the proceeds will go to Conor Grennan's non-profit organization, Next Generation Nepal.

You can read more about the book and the organization at Conor Grennan's website.

Not much of a break, eh? Well, I'm not done taking time to just read, yet, but I had been hacking away at this particular review for days and finally decided how I wanted to go about wrapping it up. I figured I should do the writing while I had the inspiration.

I've finished two books, so far: A Good American by Alex George and The Pocket Therapist by Therese J. Borchard (which I happened across in a cabinet, partly read, and decided to finish off). I also cleaned a closet. Very happy about that.

I imagine I'm going to go to my book club without having completed Empire of the Summer Moon, but I'll do my best to get as much of that read as possible by Wednesday. I got a little bored with The Phantom of the Opera, last night, and added Me Before You by Jojo Moyes to the books I'm juggling. It's so good that I might set The Phantom aside for a few days.

Apropos of nothing: I just recently came across a file of husband's photos from a business trip to Germany in 2009 and there are quite a few photos that made me laugh. As much as I'd like to know what exactly is happening in this photo, I love it just because it looks like, "Dude, quit trying to spit on me."

Germany just flew to the top of my wish list of places to go.

©2012 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. I'm seeing such good reviews of this one (namely from you and Heather F.) that I know I'll get my hands on it sooner than later.

  2. I just loved this book, and loved that Grennan was so honest about his motivations to do what he did. I laughed and cried with this one, and wondered at the amazing resiliency of these kids. Such a great book, and truly heartwarming. Fantastic review today!

  3. Andiloo,

    I loved Heather's review (and if I hadn't already read the book, she'd have convinced me, too). I'm glad the two of us have you convinced. Little Princes is a terrific book -- definitely one of the best memoirs I've read since I began blogging.


    I think that's what makes the book really shine: the author's honesty about why he went and how he felt. And, it's definitely a book that engages you emotionally. The children were amazing.


  4. I had a hard time reviewing this one, too, so I just never did... I will probably regret that.

  5. Anonymous5:23 PM

    I wasn't expecting to be so wowed by this one. I was thinking "eh, another American cashing in on his travel experience." Which is so not the was amazing to see Grennan become so inspired by the kids.

  6. Kelly,

    Well, that's one way to handle an intimidating review! LOL

    O Fizzy One,

    That's always a concern, but I tend to love travel memoirs and give a lot of them a chance. You just never know when you'll happen across a really great one. Little Princes is such a gem. I can't imagine myself putting up with the noise, the cold, the hunger. It was really amazing to see those children through his eyes, wasn't it?

  7. I finished this book last night and I loved the message, but didn't love the book as much as you did I liked it a lot, but thought it dragged when he was searching for the kids' parents.

  8. I think I first heard about this gem from Joy (Thoughts of Joy). She gave the audio version a perfect 5/5, so I added the book to my TBR list. After reading your glowing review, I'm going to make a point of buying the audio (and maybe the book) tomorrow at work. It sounds so much better than Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea. Blech.

    Isn't it nice to have a clean & organized closet?! I worked on a few this weekend and hauled a bunch of stuff to the Goodwill. What a great feeling. :)

    Fun photo! I hope to get to Germany some day, too.

  9. Ive been wanting to read this one. Your review is very enticing!

  10. Kathy,

    I enjoyed every bit of that book. If I rated books, I'd give it a 5/5. But, I don't. :)


    I bought a copy of Three Cups of Tea and then decided to get rid of it unread. I'm glad to hear you thought it was blech. Good decision, then. I have a feeling you'll enjoy Little Princes.

    Cleaning closets is so freeing. I didn't realize how long it had been since I'd gone through my clothing but some of those dresses had shoulder pads. Oh.

    I don't know why Germany hasn't been at the top of my list, in the past. Huzzybuns has unfairly gone 3 times without me. I might have to push the issue. LOL


    I really, really enjoyed this one. I hope you get to read it, soon.

  11. I put this on my list after reading Softdrink's review.

    I want to go to Germany, too.

  12. Carrie,

    I wonder if I read Softdrink's review. I know I'd heard of Little Princes and read about it, but I tend to stuff titles into my head and forget where I heard about them.

    Well, of course you want to go to Germany. Between your heritage and the beer? Definitely your kind of country, I'd say.

  13. I AGREE!!! :) I loved this book!

    1. I'm glad you agree, Joy! I think it's excellent. :)


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