4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
In November 2004, Conor Grennan was a young man with dreams of travelling around the world; drinking, meeting girls and having the time of his life. Little did he know that he would soon meet a group of Nepali children in the Little Princes Children's Home that would change his life forever. This true story spans around 4 years of Grennon's life, chronicalling his personal journey and his aim to help these trafficked children be reunited with their families during a civil war.
Grennon is an engaging writer and this adds to the incredible story. However it is the humour and joy of the children who are the stars of the book who share so much love despite having suffered such hardships in their short lives. Coloured photos are also included to really get a sense of the people and places Grennon describes. This is a fascinating read for anyone interested in the plight of children in foreign countries but is also a heartwarming story that restores faith in humanity. Another reason to purchase this book is that a portion of the proceeds go to Grennon's non-profit organisation, Next Generation Nepal (NGN).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2011
The first few pages were disappointing, and I thought I wouldn't enjoy this book by an American author who seemed rather full of himself. However I was relieved to be proved utterly wrong.
Conor Grennan is actually very self deprecating throughout the book, and is the first to admit that he originally went to the orphanage to do something that would "look good" on his year out travelling. However, his first three months at the orphanage led to a long term commitment to the children at Little Princes and beyond.
His tale unfolds as he realises the orphans are far from orphans, but caught up in the civil war in Nepal and a child trafficking scheme playing on their parents hopes of a better life outside the conflict zone. He then becomes committed to tracing these families and reuniting them with their children, no easy task in a country where most journeys have to be completed on foot, and there is a real risk of being snowed in for the winter.
The book is well written in an engaging style and often reads more like a novel than a biography, especially as some of the stories are so incredible and moving. I really enjoyed the read, but would have liked some pictures to add to the stories.
Conor has now set up his own children's home in Kathmandu and part of the proceeds from the sale of the book go towards the non-profit organisation Conor created to enable his children's home to exist. After reading the book you will be more than happy to know that you have done something to help these incredible children. Please buy and you will enjoy the book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 July 2011
If you are looking for an uplifting read, then look no further, `Little Princes' is the book for you. This relatively short read was completely refreshing and a source of profound inspiration. In such a busy world, books like these are essential tools which help us to pause, reflect and consider the plight of those people in other parts of the world that are by and large completely forgotten by us.
Connor is a young American taking a break from the rat race whilst he travels the world. Feeling like he should be doing something constructive with his time, he arranges to volunteer at a children's orphanage in war torn Nepal for a period of three months. Completely unprepared and unqualified, Connor enters a hidden world of child trafficking, neglect and malnutrition reminiscent of a Dickensian novel.
What follows, is a whirlwind of an adventure which will change the life of Connor and his `Little Princes' forever. The book describes Nepal; its political system and culture during the civil war between the Maoists and the monarchy. Nepal is a beautiful country but one which is completely impoverished, divided by class systems, corrupt and often quite dangerous. In that respect, the book was completely fascinating, I knew nothing at all about Nepal before beginning the book and absorbed countless facts whilst progressing.
The book describes Connor's initial unease with his immersion into this alien environment, but moves on to describe his acceptance of the situation, his deepening love for the children, his reluctance to leave Nepal, his plans to search for the abandoned children's parents, his crazy expedition into Humla and concludes with a brief look at his initial plans for the future.
The book is warm and humorous and will hold your attention from the first to the last page. If ever a book is to grab a heart, then this is the one. You would have to be made of stone not to be moved by the events described within this book. The depth of love that Connor has for his children was instantaneously obvious and almost overwhelmingly emotional. The book is simply written and it certainly shows in its format and appearance.
I recommend this book to any person who loves a good news story, particularly involving voluntary groups and their attempts to overcome adversity. In addition, if you know nothing at all about Nepal, as I didn't, then this is an excellent book to become acquainted with the country.
Connor mentioned in his acknowledgements section that he didn't think anyone would want to read his story. Well he was completely wrong. The book was brilliant and I would certainly buy a second instalment describing his adventures and the children of Nepal.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A heart-warming book, this is the true story of Conor Grennan and his quest to reunite the displaced children of Nepal with their families. Conor is unshrinkingly honest in his tale - he openly admits that when he first volunteered to help orphaned children in Nepal, it was without any real passion but rather as a short-term commitment that would look good to others. He obviously had no idea then of the fervour this would spark within him to help the children of Nepal who had been taken from their parents by unscrupulous child-traffickers, and that it would lead him to start his own halfway house for this forgotten generation.
This is an informative tale; Nepal is not a country that occupies a prime position in the headlines and it is eye-opening to read of the civil conflict that tore it apart for so many years, and of the repercussions for the families who lived through this. At first it is shocking to read that parents willingly sent their children away with a child trafficker; however, then you learn the reason why - the Maoist army had demanded that each family give up at least one of their children to serve in the army, and parents paid huge sums of money to the man who offered to take their children to a safe haven where they would be educated and taken care of, not knowing his true purpose.
It is also a moving tale; it is not a story of sadness and destitution but rather of hope and love. Although the displaced children have suffered terribly, they show great resilience - they adapt, hope, dream and help each other to face life's challenges. And the author has his reward in the end too - but to tell you what this is would ruin the surprise, although you will probably figure it out about halfway through the book.
Finally, you can purchase this book knowing that a percentage of the profits will go towards NGN, the organisation set up by the author to help the children of Nepal.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I really, really, really enjoyed this. I've been a children's projects volunteer for about 22 years and I'm always moved and intrigued by stories involving children at risk. This true story revolves around the life of a young American lad, who, primarily in order to impress girls on his return home, signs up for a six month stint at a home for abandoned and trafficked children in the suburbs of Kathmandu. He was there whilst the Maoists were revving up their campaign to topple the monarchy. His testimony of how these kids 'got' to him is frank and candid, and you can't help yourself being drawn into the lives of these little ones.
The main thread of the book is his personal decision to rescue seven children who he lost track of. He teams up with one of the other young men from the orphanage and sets off across Nepal to find each one of them. It is a journey fraught with difficulties and dangers and... well, I won't spoil anything for you here.
If you're a little hard-of-heart and aren't open to emotional prods from a non-fiction book, then don't get this. If, on the other hand, you delight in tales of the triumph of human spirit over adversity etc, then go for it. There's even a lovely sub-plot of the development of his 8,000 mile relationship with a girl back in the States.
Connor writes with a gentle humour too - often very much at his own expense, which I found personally quite endearing. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did, should you buy it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This was an excellent book, certainly deserving of its comparison to Three Cups of Tea (Greg Mortenson).
From the start I liked the author and his self depreciating explantion for his visit to Nepal - a bit of volunteering would make the whole exercise of world travel, seem more valid. Little did he know what a profound effect the children would have on him.
He's a typical American lad when he arrives at the Little Princes Orphanage in Nepal, he has had no previous contact with children and is baffled by the behaviour of the eighteen youngsters who launch themselves at him as he steps through the gate. In spite of their tough lives, these children are adorable and Connor settles down to the routine that is to be his life for the next 3 months.
Most volunteers do their 3 month stint and then leave, but the children get under his skin and he decides to pay them another visit before returning to America.
It was around this time that he discovered that the children were not really orphans but victims of child trafficking, the majority of them having living parents.
And what was his response? He threw himself whole-heartedly into a search for their parents in the rugged terains of Nepal.
I couldn't put this book down, it was a fantastic read, all the better for being true.
It is our book group choice for next week and I am really looking forward to sharing it. A book that everyone should read.
on 23 September 2012
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. A non-fiction adventure story of how a group of people overcame impossible challenges in order to bring happiness into the lives of Nepalise children and in some cases to return them to their lost families.
The story is told by one man, Conor Grennan, who had planned a year travelling the world and had only volunteered at an orphanage in Nepal for a few weeks to impress his friends. He was out there for almost three years, finding himself unable to leave these children without trying to do more for them.
What struck me first was how funny Grennan is. His writing is very readable and he is very real, unpretentious and extremely honest. You can tell he had been really humbled by his experiences. I found the story to be very moving, just in the way that simple things we can take for granted - not wasting food, re-using plastic bags - are so important to the people in Nepal.
Reading this book helped me to learn a lot about Nepalise culture and about the horrors of the conflict that was going on at the time of Grennan's first trip there, between the King and the Maoist rebels. It made me grateful for the strict laws we have when I read how corrupt people could get away with such atrocities because the law simply wasn't strong enough to prevent it.
Throughout the book I could sense a growing understanding in Grennan of what it means to love your children, even when they are not your own, but so much more when they are. It isn't overly sentimental, which I was grateful. It really did humble me to see how privileged we are in the West but it wasn't written in a way to try to make you feel bad.
The book obviously centres very much around the children Grennan was there to help, and I found myself starting to fall in love with them too. But the story wasn't just about the children it was also about how they ended up in the situation they were in, the conflict, the political situation, the geography of their land and the poverty. I found it as good as any fictional adventure story. It is well written, easy to understand and both heart-rending and heart-warming. It is also highly entertaining and in parts, very funny.
Grennan's story shows what can be done with determination, resilience and perseverance - and that's just the children.
The one part I wasn't particularly interested in was Grennan's love life, his meeting a Christian woman who was interested in his work and eventually marrying her and having their first child. It was clearly important for him to include it and some people will be interested; personally I thought it was unnecessary.
Overall, however, a beautiful story that is easy to read and will have you laughing out loud and sobbing your heart out.
on 1 May 2011
The most memorable and affecting books aren't always written by writers. Conor Grennan isn't a "writer", but he is a very engaging narrator and tells his story very well - simply, honestly, and without artifice, hardly ever consciously creating an effect - which is what distinguishes Little Princes from the superficially similar 3 Cups of Tea which was spoiled in parts by some turgid writing.
The story is enthralling and unforgettable. I wasn't entirely convinced that Conor was quite as worldly and shallow as he suggests at the outset of his adventure - or that he was volunteering solely for reasons of expediency. (He had after all been working on community building projects in Eastern Europe for an international NGO - so he couldn't have been stepping into an entirely unfamiliar world when he landed at the Kathmandu trafficked children's home) But he did clearly undergo a profound personal change during his time in Nepal. He bonded quickly and deeply with the unruly and affectionate children he meets (yes, we get some piccies and the kids really are adorable), and gained the trust and support of the people there who dedicate their lives to helping and protecting them.
And so he finds a new purpose to his life which leads him to trek into a remote mountain region to find the families of the children - who had been tricked into handing them over to traffickers; he also establishes an NGO to continue the education and care of the abandoned children, and the more sensitive work of reuniting them with their families where feasible.
Whilst the huge underlying issues of poverty and exploitation aren't minutely explored, this story succeeds in moving them out of the comfortable territory of abstract outrage, and gives some unsettling insights into their devastating personal consequences.
A haunting story, very highly recommended for anyone with a heart and a brain.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This is quite possibly one of the best books I've read, add to this the fact that it's a biography and five stars just doesn't seem to do it justice. I've only just finished this and already I've recommended it to family and friends (and anyone else who'd care to listen).
Not only is this a really interesting and moving story but it's really well written, Conor does a fantastic job of letting everybody's personalities show through in the way they speak. In a lot of ways this book reads more like a novel than like a biography which I think makes it a lot easier to read, it also has plenty of humorous scenes interspersed with the more moving scenes. I think it's a sign of a really good writer if they can make you laugh and cry within a matter of minutes of each other.
The work he has done makes Conor an inspiration to many, it would have been so easy for him to have completed his initial 3 months and not looked back but the children affected him and got under his skin, as they have obviously done to a number of people as Conor makes it clear he has not worked alone in his fight to save these children.
A percentage of the proceeds from this book go to aid Conor's work in caring for the children of Nepal and tracing their families. Although I got this as an early review copy, I am so impressed and moved by the work that Conor has done I'll be donating the cost of the book to Next Generation Nepal, the charity that Conor has set up.
on 13 March 2012
This book is Conor Grennan's account of how a stint of volunteering at a Nepali orphanage developed into a life-long mission to save Nepal's trafficked children and eventually reunite them with their families.
The title of this book, Little Princes, describes the star characters of this inspiring book to perfection. The gaggle of mischievous, brave, funny, affectionate, hyperactive, chattering children living at the Little Princes orphanage are heartbreaking and life-affirming all at the same time.
The way Grennan narrates his story shows his compassion and love for Nepal and her lost children, which draws the reader in with very little effort. His tone is easy and natural, he is self-effacing and funny and honest. His adventures make for a sometimes breathless page-turner, other times as a spotlight shining on crimes which should have been brought to international attention a long time ago.
I imagine this is one of very few, if any, books of its kind about this fascinating country sitting at the top of our world, and I would challenge anyone to read it without feeling moved, intrigued, angered and grateful.