Wednesday, October 19, 2011

book review: Little Princes by Conor Grennan

This book is about the experiences of Conor Grennan, a guy who mostly stumbled into his role of orphan- rescuer and family-reuniter.  Young, unmarried and relatively successful, he planned to take a year off and travel around the world.  Feeling slightly guilty about the selfishness of this,  he decides on a whim to volunteer for a month at an orphanage in Nepal.   No matter that he knows nothing about Nepal, or for that matter, children.  How hard can it be to play with kids for a month?

After his month living with the orphans, Conor finds that these children worked their way into his heart.  They have changed him.  Although he continues along with his trip, he returns after a year. While he is staying in Nepal for the second time, the story of the orphans begins to evolve.  The orphanage founders had been told the children were victims of the war, but it turns out they were victims of a child trafficker.  They are not orphans.  Years ago, their parents paid huge sums to this trafficker, who promised them he would take their children to safety and provide education.  The parents never heard from their children again.  Conor undertakes the incredible task of hiking deep into Nepal, where roads do not reach, to find these parents and tell them he has found their children.

This is such a wonderful book.   The stories of the children are a delight, and their ability to deal with their situations is incredible. Conor writes with self-effacing humor, and even though the book is about a serious situation, there were moments when I laughed out loud.  One of my favorite quotes:

"I asked, 'where is the toilet?' on my first day in Southern Humla, and was told: 'No.' I don't think I had ever gotten that response before. It shouldn't really be a yes or no question, after all."

The end of this book finds Conor not only changing the lives of his young friends, but changing the ways of a whole country.  An inspiring, wonderful book; highly recommended.

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