Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Little Princes by Conor Grennan

Talk about a coming of age story!  Conor Grennan's book, Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal, is a memoir, Grennan's coming of age story, and the story of a lost generation of children in Nepal.  It's also a tragedy, and a triumph.  It's a fascinating book.

Grennan admits he was naive and selfish when he planned his trip around the world.  He had worked for eight years after college in Prague, and then Brussels.  At a time in life when others were settling down, he was planning a trip.  Not wanting to appear selfish, he signed up to volunteer for two months in 2004 at an orphanage in Nepal, despite the civil war that had been raging for eight years.  Then, he could tell women, oh, there's a civil war going on, but I'm going to work in an orphanage there.  He didn't realize how much he would grow to love the children at Little Princes, the name of the home.  Those children and their stories would change Grennan's life.

During this time period, Maoist rebels were abducting children from villages, using them in their forces, or as workers.  In the far northwestern corner of Nepal, in the Humla region, a child trafficker named Golkka convinced families he would save their children.  They paid him enormous amounts of money to take their children, find them homes, and educate them, saving them from the Maoist rebels.  Instead, Golkka sold their children as slaves, or just turned them into the streets.  These were the children in Little Princes, and seven other children from Humla that Grenna and a fellow volunteer, Farid, later found, and lost.

When Grenna's volunteer time was up, he took his tour around the world, but found he couldn't forget the children.  It was on returning that he learned about the other children, and, just as he found a place to house them, Golkka moved them.  Grennan couldn't let go of the stories of the children of Humla.  He returned to the U.S., founded a nonprofit organization, Next Generation Nepal (NGN), and returned again to Nepal.  He risked his life to journey to the mountains of Humla during the civil war, trying to locate the families, who thought their children were either safe somewhere, or dead.  And, together, he and Farid founded a home for the Humli children until they could be reunited with their families.

This is just the bare outline of this story, not much more than appears on the flap of the book.  Little Princes is a story of love, and triumph, and one man's journey to adulthood.  It's a fascinating adventure.  And, it's the tragic story of a country that lost its children during a civil war, and the small group of people of every nationality who are working to change the country.

Conor Grennan's website is http://www.nextgenerationnepal.org/

Little Princes by Conor Grennan. HarperCollins, ©2011. ISBN 9780061930058 (hardcover), 294p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, in hopes I would review it.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I don't know very much about the situation in Nepal (I should know more...if this was set in 2004, it's still modern times). Looks like a touching story and an important one, too.

Lesa said...

I knew nothing about it either, Elizabeth. Just shows how little attention we Americans pay, doesn't it? Or maybe how little attention our news services pay, unless it has to do with a celebrity breakdown.

Avery Aames said...

Wow, Lesa, I had no idea. I've read about transportation of children for less than savory purposes from China and Japan. Now this opens one more eye to the world of abuse.

I'm not sure it is a matter of how much attention we, as a people, pay as much as how much attention is given to it news-wise. This sounds like an important story to share.



bermudaonion said...

I love books like this and so admire people like Conor Grennan who work to make a difference in the world.

Beth Hoffman said...

I honestly had NO idea. None. Thank you, Lesa, for bringing this book to my attention!

Book Bird Dog said...

I can see you enjoyed the book. I have it to read as well and featured it on Teaser Tuesday: Little Princes

Lesa said...


I had no idea, either. I agree with you. It's our news.

Lesa said...


I was very impressed in the change in Conor Grennan in the course of the book, and his honesty in writing about it. It was an excellent book.

Lesa said...


I never knew what was going on, and it's sad to think those parents paid money when they didn't even have much, thinking they were saving their children.

Lesa said...

Book Bird Dog,

I hope you enjoy Little Princes as much as I did. And, thank you for the link.