Book Review: Little Princes – Conor Grennan [TSS]

Title: Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal
Author: Conor Grennan
ISBN: 9780061930058
Pages: 304
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Publisher: William Morrow (Print) / Harper Audio (Audio)
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:

When he was 29, Conor Grennan decided that he wanted to take a trip around the world for one year.  But when he realized that sounded incredibly self-indulgent, he amended his plan:  he would start off the trip in Nepal, helping orphan children for three months.  After all, what sounds more selfless than working at orphanage?  But when Grennan arrives in Nepal, he immediately realizes he is in over his head.  What he is unaware of, though, is how much those three months and the twenty boys at Little Princes orphanage will change him.

Review:

I know a decent amount about South Asia.  I’ve read a lot of books about the region, and have been lucky enough to visit there.  One country in the area I don’t know a lot about, though, is Nepal.  While I knew there had been a civil war in the country, I didn’t know who was fighting, nor was I aware of what they were fighting for.  Therefore, I was very curious about Little Princes when I first heard about it.  A moving story set against the backdrop of a war-torn country sounded like a valuable learning experience.

What I wasn’t prepared for, though, is how incredibly funny Little Princes was.  Conor Grennan has an incredibly self-deprecating and warm sense of humor.  He’s not afraid to make fun of himself, his ignorance, and his utter stupidity in thinking that a good reason for volunteering at an orphanage was to impress people.  I absolutely loved his observations about Nepal.  He manages to inject a sense of humor into even the hardest facets of life, yet he never makes fun of anyone but himself.  It is clear he is incredibly respectful of Nepalis, their culture, and the Little Princes orphanage.  While he might find humor in what is occurring around him, his laughter is never mean spirited.

Conor Grennan is also incredibly honest in this book. He does this monumental thing, giving so much of himself to those who have so little, yet he isn’t some otherworldly person of goodness.  He has doubts and fears, frustrations that the people of Nepal leave it to foreigners to care for their children (because they have so little to give, but still a legitimate concern), a desire to return home to the conveniences of the United States.  I loved how much of himself he shared with the reader, as I felt like I really understood his feelings and motivations.

Grennan also is prepared for the fact that readers will likely know next-to-nothing about Nepal, and includes the relevant history in order to educate them.  I’ll admit, I was shocked to discover that many Americans get Nepal and Tibet confused – it just shows how little a small country like Nepal might make the news in the US, even if they had a decade-long civil war.  It was incredible to learn about the rich history of Nepal, as well as the heartbreaking results of the civil war.  The war was still going on when Grennan traveled there, so the reader is really able to get a feel for the claustrophobic and paranoid nature of living in a war zone.

As much as I loved the history, culture, and the humor of Little Princes, it was the children that captured my heart.  Grennan’s love for these kids knows no bounds; they climb all over him, beat him at games, and steal his laptop to watch bootleg Hindi movies.  He remarks often on how resilient they are; though they have been taken from their parents, they are always smiling and laughing, eager for a joke or to play a game.  They have experienced horrors no one should have to, yet they are still happy children.  I absolutely loved learning about each one of them; Conor’s sincere brotherly love for them shines through every page of the book.

It’s what happens after Conor’s three month stint in Nepal that is remarkable, though.  In the end, he feels a personal responsibility for the children.  He easily could have left for a comfortable life in the US, but he couldn’t abandon Nepal.  Not only does he return to the Little Princes orphanage, he begins his own project to travel into the most war-torn regions of Nepal and find the families of all the children, to reunite mothers and sons.  I can’t describe how moving Conor’s journey is, how many times I teared up.  Conor’s generosity moved me incredibly, and also shamed me.  It was an incredible thing he did, and continues to do with his organization, Next Generation Nepal.

I listened to Little Princes on audio, which was an excellent choice.  The narrator is actually the author, Conor Grennan, which can often be a red flag with audios.  Some authors just aren’t the best choice to narrate their work, but Grennan was incredible.  His inflections delivered the humor of the book perfectly and his voice was warm and welcoming.  The audio version is unabridged and runs almost 10 hours.

I cannot put into words how much I absolutely loved Little Princes; I feel like this review doesn’t even come close to doing justice to this book.  It made me laugh out loud and moved me to tears.  It made me want to help, at the same time I really felt like I was learning a lot about a country I don’t know much about. This is one of those books that you absolutely have to pick up and try, even if you’re not the biggest fan of non-fiction.  It is an amazing journey, and I am so glad to have been along for the ride.

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Comments

  1. Wow this sounds like an amazing book! I love reading books about countries that I know nothing about!
    Last year I did a reading challenge I called “12 countries in 12 months” I wish I had this book then. Maybe I should do the challenged again. You have a lot of good books on your blog about different countries.
    Thanks for the great review!

  2. Wow this sounds like an amazing book! I love reading books about countries that I know nothing about!
    Last year I did a reading challenge I called “12 countries in 12 months” I wish I had this book then. Maybe I should do the challenged again. You have a lot of good books on your blog about different countries.
    Thanks for the great review!

  3. This book sounds great! Definitely a new addition to my TBR list.

  4. This book sounds great! Definitely a new addition to my TBR list.

  5. Heather just gave me this book, and I can’t wait to read it. It is easy to be moved by stories like this, but another thing completely to actually DO something like the author. I have so much admiration for the man.

  6. Heather just gave me this book, and I can’t wait to read it. It is easy to be moved by stories like this, but another thing completely to actually DO something like the author. I have so much admiration for the man.

  7. I’ve been jonesing for this one ever since Heather’s review at Raging Bibliomania, and I am really excited to hear that he has a “self-deprecating” kind of humor; that’s always a plus for me in any sort of memoir.

  8. I’ve been jonesing for this one ever since Heather’s review at Raging Bibliomania, and I am really excited to hear that he has a “self-deprecating” kind of humor; that’s always a plus for me in any sort of memoir.

  9. I have been curious about this book for a while, but never got around to actually getting a copy. I finally requested it from the library, so I am glad it is getting positive reviews. :)

  10. I have been curious about this book for a while, but never got around to actually getting a copy. I finally requested it from the library, so I am glad it is getting positive reviews. :)

  11. A great review of one of my favourite books this year. Did you get to see the photos of the kids withe the audio format?

    They were one of the things that really made my read.

  12. A great review of one of my favourite books this year. Did you get to see the photos of the kids withe the audio format?

    They were one of the things that really made my read.

  13. Elena – The audio version didn’t have them, but luckily I have the print version as well and was able to see them! You’re right, they were great.

  14. Elena – The audio version didn’t have them, but luckily I have the print version as well and was able to see them! You’re right, they were great.

  15. I’ve seen so many positive reviews of this one I just have to get myself a copy!

  16. I’ve seen so many positive reviews of this one I just have to get myself a copy!

  17. I LOVED this book! I convinced one of my book groups to read it and can’t wait to see what they think of it when we meet this month

  18. I LOVED this book! I convinced one of my book groups to read it and can’t wait to see what they think of it when we meet this month

  19. I adore books like this and am really looking forward to reading this one.

  20. I adore books like this and am really looking forward to reading this one.

  21. It was really funny, wasn’t it? I loved this book and thought that the story of the children was amazing, as was Grennan himself. It was very sad in parts, but when it was all over, I closed the book feeling so much hope. Fantastic review, Swapna. I am glad you enjoyed this one as much as I did.

  22. It was really funny, wasn’t it? I loved this book and thought that the story of the children was amazing, as was Grennan himself. It was very sad in parts, but when it was all over, I closed the book feeling so much hope. Fantastic review, Swapna. I am glad you enjoyed this one as much as I did.

  23. I’m glad to hear the audio of this one was so successful. I’ll have to check it out there!

  24. I’m glad to hear the audio of this one was so successful. I’ll have to check it out there!

  25. I have been reading such awesome things about this book. I really need to get my hands on a copy soon!

  26. I have been reading such awesome things about this book. I really need to get my hands on a copy soon!

  27. I, too, was surprised at the humor and warmth in this book! It was sort of like 3 Cups of Tea but with a guy you’d actually want to have tea with. Great review :)

  28. I, too, was surprised at the humor and warmth in this book! It was sort of like 3 Cups of Tea but with a guy you’d actually want to have tea with. Great review :)

  29. This sounds like a truly stunning novel. I don’t know much at all about Nepal – I have to admit that when it comes to my reading, I’m not very worldly but I am working on changing that which is why I am definitely putting this book on my TBR list.

  30. This sounds like a truly stunning novel. I don’t know much at all about Nepal – I have to admit that when it comes to my reading, I’m not very worldly but I am working on changing that which is why I am definitely putting this book on my TBR list.

  31. Wow, great review! You basically covered every aspect of this wonderful book. I read it earlier this year and enjoyed it immensely as well. The combination of humor, warmth, and honesty was perfect, and I loved learning new things about Nepal, a country with which I am not familiar.

  32. Wow, great review! You basically covered every aspect of this wonderful book. I read it earlier this year and enjoyed it immensely as well. The combination of humor, warmth, and honesty was perfect, and I loved learning new things about Nepal, a country with which I am not familiar.

  33. I’m so glad you loved this one! It’s probably one of my most recommended books of this year, to date.

  34. I’m so glad you loved this one! It’s probably one of my most recommended books of this year, to date.

  35. I was planning to buy this book and recalled having seen the book here. After reading your review, I am quite confident that this is going to be a memorable book :-)

  36. I was planning to buy this book and recalled having seen the book here. After reading your review, I am quite confident that this is going to be a memorable book :-)

  37. I just bought this book, my interest in Nepal primarly and this absolutely adorable cover attracted me to this story.
    I couldn’t immagine it beign a boring story and am glad to see you gave it a 5/5.
    I have a couple of other books ahead, will let you know when I read it.
    Thank-yu for your review
    Madeleine

  38. I just bought this book, my interest in Nepal primarly and this absolutely adorable cover attracted me to this story.
    I couldn’t immagine it beign a boring story and am glad to see you gave it a 5/5.
    I have a couple of other books ahead, will let you know when I read it.
    Thank-yu for your review
    Madeleine

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