Friday, April 20, 2012

Book Review: The Little Princes

Ever since that scandal surrounding Greg Mortenson and Three Cups of Tea, I've been wary of reading "feel good," "helping people in random foreign countries" memoirs. I mean, I know there are good people out there, trying to do good things. But, I thought Three Cups of Tea was one of those good things, and all of a sudden I was unsure.

Then, one day, I was browsing at Barnes and Noble {SO much of my life looks like this!} and found this:

I, of course, had to buy it. I am so glad I did!

The author, Conor Grenan embarks on a year-round journey and, to make the trip seem a bit less focused on hedonism, decides to volunteer for three months at an orphanage in Nepal. He's placed at The Little Princes and details how the kids work their way into his heart {or, crash into it!} but also what leads him to return to Nepal a second time, and later open up his own children's home.

We follow him to and from the United States, through trying to figure out how to manage a large group of children {everyone remembers their first summer at camp, right?}, and falling in love. But, the main part of the story details his journey with Next Generation Nepal, a non-profit he started after discovering that seven children he helped rescue were re-kidnapped by the child-trafficker who took them from their families. He finds them all, though not without difficulty, and then helps to find their families after he realizes that they're not really orphans. They're families paid money to get them away from the Civil War believing that the man who turned out to be the trafficker would take care of them.

Pushing my own issues with ethnocentrism aside {Westerners barging into "poor" countries and "fixing things" drives me all kinds of bonkers sometimes}, I loved this novel. I loved Grenan's writing style {honest, irreverent, and markedly without finesse...he writes like a frat boy, which makes his story that much more endearing} and the way he portrayed his story. 

I also really liked the way he handled his faith. For him, turning back to his childhood Christianity was important, and he did share that with his readers. However, this memoir did not take on a "preachy" tone as many others have. Often I feel mighty uncomfortable reading stories which I thought were going to discuss international issues only to be treated to Bible study. I appreciated that Grennan identified and shared his journey while realizing that it's not everyone's journey. In fact, he and the French Buddhist guy openly discuss how they came to their respective faiths, and how it was good for each of them. 

This is a quick, but fulfilling read, and I highly recommend it.


  1. Sounds like a good one, Lauren! I've heard many sad stories coming out of Nepal. It's nice to hear a story of hope and positive change.

    I, too, was disappointed when the lid was blown on Greg Mortensen. I read "Stones Into Schools" and was very inspired by his work. Granted, it sounds like they *were* doing good work, it's just that they were also lying & exaggerating as well.

    Happy Friday,

  2. I've had Three Cups of Tea on my to-read list for awhile. . . but I think I'd rather read this now!

  3. I've never heard of this one but it sounds really good. I can relate to your bit about ethnocentrism, too. Sometimes it's hard to know when we really can help someone in another country and when we're barging in.

  4. This book sounds really good! It's not really my style, but it sounds like a good one!

  5. Wow, this one sounds so good!

  6. I just finished this book last night and I LOOOOVVVVEEEED it!!! I have a special place in my heart for Nepal after visiting a week to see my friend get married. This book makes you want to go out and do something good for the world and I love how Conor presented the story! You also wrote a great review for it!


  7. I've been seeing this one around and think it looks like a really interesting & thoughtful read.