Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review: Little Princes by Conor Grennan

I have read a number of books over the years, both fiction and non-fiction, set in Asian countries close to the Himalayas. The majesty of this area of the world has me in thrall without me ever leaving my chair. The magnificence of nature here sometimes overshadows the human element but in the hands of the right writer, I can be equally captured by the reality of the people who live in these rugged, remote, and often terribly poor countries. But I didn't really have a good sense of the turmoil and poverty in the midst of all the grandeur, especially in Nepal. This book has changed that a bit for me and certainly put a human face (or faces) on the sad and desperate social situation facing this small mountainous country sandwiched between India and China.

After eight years working for the EastWest think tank, Conor Grennan decided that he wanted to spend a year going around the world. To make his trip seem less frivolous, he signed up to start his journey in Nepal, volunteering at an orphange for 3 months. He didn't really have any experience with children and had very little idea what to expect at the Little Princes Children's Home. But working at an orphanage was certainly admirable and staved off criticism for his around the world year. At the outset, Grennan had no concept of how much the first three months of his journey would change him and how the children at the orphanage would burrow into his heart.

Coming back to Nepal after his year in the world, he discovered, quite by accident, that the children at Little Princes (named for the St. Exupery character) were not in fact orphans. They had been rescued from child traffickers. And it was the desperate, unsuccessful race to pluck seven more trafficked children from the dire situation in which they were living, even as the civil war escalated throughout the country, that drove Grennan and his colleague Farid to create the NGO Next Generation Nepal. Their initial vow to find these seven children, stop the abomination of child trafficking, and find the families of all the lost children remains a driving force behind the organization.

Ten years of civil war in Nepal caused more casualties than just among those fighting. When men went through remote villages and offered parents the opportunity to send their children to safety in Kathmandu, away from Maoist rebels who would forcibly conscript the children into their armies, to a place with abundant food, to a place where their children could receive an education, the parents gave everything they had to these men in return for the promise of a better life for the children. Unfortunately, the truth was that they paid these child traffickers who only turned around and sold the children into slavery, abandoned them to starve, or worse. It is these stolen children that Next Generation Nepal seeks to find and reunite with their families.

Part travelogue, part coming of age tale, part love story, part social conscience, part crusade, part call to action, this tale is wonderfully told and completely engrossing. Grennan is honest about the hard realities of Nepalese life, the corruption found there, and the oftentimes ineffectual politics. But he writes beautifully, affectionately, and from the heart about the people, the place, and the children he carries in his heart forever. His self-deprecating humor shines throughout the narrative making for a highly entertaining read. As Grennan experiences life, learns and changes personally, searches nearly inaccessible villages for parents of the lost children, celebrates successes, and agonizes over failures in this struggling and impoverished country, the reader is swept into the childrens' lives as well as into Grennan's own developing personal life. I dare anyone turning these pages not to fall in love with the enchanting imps at Little Princes and invite them to root for Grennan as he makes the world a better place, one child, one family at a time.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each copy of Little Princes will be donated to Next Generation Nepal and will help go towards getting more of these lost children out of the hands of child traffickers and home again.

For more information about Conor Grennan and the book visit his webpage, Facebook, or follow him on Twitter. For information on Next Generation Nepal, the NGO set-up to help the lost children of Nepal, check out their website. Follow the rest of the blog tour or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.


  1. I haven't read a bad review yet on this one. I must get to it soon. Great review.

  2. This sounds like such an amazing book! I'm glad you brought it to my attention.

  3. This one sounds truly moving. I love this: "I dare anyone turning these pages not to fall in love with the enchanting imps at Little Princes and invite them to root for Grennan as he makes the world a better place, one child, one family at a time." I can think of so many friends I'd want to share this book with!

    Thanks so much for being a part of the tour.


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