Bookworm Blog: “Little Princes” by Conor Grennan

When you came home the other day, there was another message on the answering machine, somebody else asking for your time.

It’s not that you don’t enjoy volunteering. You do it willingly – gladly – because you know things get done when many hands work together.

But you have your limits.

Even so, you have to admit that your hours given have made a positive impact on your life. In the new book “Little Princes” by Conor Grennan, what was meant to be a no-effort, offhand obligation became an obsession for one man.

Conor Grennan was bored.

For eight years, he lived inexpensively in Prague while he worked at an international public policy think-tank. With no kids, wife, or mortgage and no plans for any of the above, freedom beckoned and he decided to blow his savings on a solo, round-the-world trip.

But when friends and family expressed concerns, Grennan blithely decided that his first three months of the trip could be spent volunteering at a Nepalese orphanage. Sure, there was a war going on in Nepal, but nobody could argue with orphans.

He traveled to Kathmandu, then to The Little Princes Children’s Home.

By Nepalese standards, Little Princes was imposing, well-built, featuring running water and electricity. When Grennan first stepped foot inside its gates, he was instantly mobbed by gleeful children: sixteen boys and two girls, all victims of war.

He expected poverty and lack of amenities in Nepal. He never expected to fall in love with eighteen children in three months. And when it was time to leave, Grennan never expected to hear himself promise the kids he’d be back.

But one year later, the round-the-world trip over, Grennan did return to Nepal briefly, then he flew home to New York where he learned a disturbing truth: some of his charges were missing. Furthermore, few of the children at Little Princes were really orphaned; to keep Maoist soldiers from seizing their children, trusting Nepalese parents handed their sons and daughters over to a man being sought for human trafficking.

The lucky kids ended up in volunteer-run homes. The unlucky ones were neglected and abused.

Knowing that he had to find the missing children, Grennan took action. With the help of a former Little Princes colleague and the encouragement of an email pal who was quickly becoming more than a friend, he raised money for the children of Nepal.

And then, he returned yet again and headed into the mountains…

There’s a little something for everybody in “Little Princes”: true adventure, travel, nail-biting riskiness, humor, and page-turning action. Author Conor Grennan is an excellent storyteller who knows when to make his readers gasp and when to lighten the tone, and he does both very well. And by the way, whatever you do, DON’T skip to the last page and ruin the ending. You’ll hate yourself if you do.

If you love a heartwarming story with a touch of danger, this should be the next thing you read. For you, “Little Princes” is a great use of your time.