Saturday, June 11, 2011

Little Princes by Conor Grennan

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan

Rating: PG-13; 5 stars

Summary: Connor Grennan wanted to travel the world. To kick things off, he volunteered at an orphanage in Nepal. Little did he know that the Little Princes orphanage would change his life forever. While volunteering, Grennan learned that the civil war in Nepal had led to families in remote regions selling their children, in the hopes that better lives would be available elsewhere. Though the parents had good intentions, they were actually endangering their children. Grennan decided that he needed to help, and so he did.

Opinions: This book is what I wanted the book Three Cups of Tea to be: focused on the kids. I understand that the books' respective organizations have different goals, but the end result in both cases is for the kids. Little Princes was wonderful in its focus on the children, how they lived, how they changed, their hardships and triumphs.

This story is a sad one: parents and children separated in a third world country, assuming they will never see each other again. In many cases, the assumption was that the children or the parents were dead. I probably spent close to half of this book in or near tears. That being said, there was actually a lot of humor in this book. Children are resilient creatures, and the kids Conor Grennan was involved with are no exception. Despite hardship in their lives, their still children. They play and wrestle and do anything that kids do. I found myself either laughing or crying for the majority of the book.

I also loved how honest Grennan was. He admitted from the beginning of the book that his motives for going to Nepal weren't great. He wanted to volunteer for a few months so that when he traveled the world vacation-style, his friends wouldn't give him funny looks for being wasteful. He admitted that he knew next to nothing about working with kids. And yet...and yet he was successful. His honesty from the get-go made this book seem all the closer to me, although I have never been to Nepal.

I loved learning about Nepali culture. I realize that there are probably a million books in the world that are specifically about Nepali culture, and not focused on children, but I loved it anyway. I took Hindi a couple of years ago, and I get very excited about anything I can connect to what I learned. I recognized many Nepalese words as variants on words I knew in Hindi. I also enjoyed all the Buddhism references in the book; I took a course on Buddhism last fall, and ever since, it seems as though I can't get away from it. Neither Hindi or Buddhism are things that other readers would necessarily care about, but they made the book a little more personal for me.

I gave this book 5 stars because I just really enjoyed it. I have this feeling that because now that I'm at college and don't have time to read for pleasure as much, I'm being really lenient on book ratings. I don't really care about this, but I just figured I'd warn people. I loved this book, and if a sequel comes out for whatever reason, I'll definitely read it. This merited a PG-13 for two reasons: the subject matter can be difficult, both to grasp as reality, and just to understand. This book is also definitely written for an older crowd; I believe that younger readers would find themselves bored very quickly. I normally don't rate books based on certain age groups getting bored or not understanding, because everyone develops at their own pace. However, since this is non-fiction, I figured I'd include it in the rating.

In general, I'd say if you like kids and learning about different places and cultures, this is an excellent book. Nonfiction isn't everyone's cup of tea (no pun intended), but if you like it, this is definitely a worthwhile read.

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