William Morrow Publishing
Copyright: January 2011
The amazon.com product description:
In search of adventure, 29-year-old Conor Grennan traded his day job for a year-long trip around the globe, a journey that began with a three-month stint volunteering at the Little Princes Children’s Home, an orphanage in war-torn Nepal.I picked this book up initially because I was intrigued by the cover, and also because Nepal sounded interesting. Was it ever! The description above sums Little Princes up very well, without giving away too much detail.
Conor was initially reluctant to volunteer, unsure whether he had the proper skill, or enough passion, to get involved in a developing country in the middle of a civil war. But he was soon overcome by the herd of rambunctious, resilient children who would challenge and reward him in a way that he had never imagined. When Conor learned the unthinkable truth about their situation, he was stunned: The children were not orphans at all. Child traffickers were promising families in remote villages to protect their children from the civil war—for a huge fee—by taking them to safety. They would then abandon the children far from home, in the chaos of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.
For Conor, what began as a footloose adventure becomes a commitment to reunite the children he had grown to love with their families, but this would be no small task. He would risk his life on a journey through the legendary mountains of Nepal, facing the dangers of a bloody civil war and a debilitating injury. Waiting for Conor back in Kathmandu, and hopeful he would make it out before being trapped in by snow, was the woman who would eventually become his wife and share his life’s work.
Little Princes is a true story of families and children, and what one person is capable of when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. At turns tragic, joyful, and hilarious, Little Princes is a testament to the power of faith and the ability of love to carry us beyond our wildest expectations.
Although the beginning of the book had me wondering a bit, once Conor met up with the children at the orphanage, the whole thing took off. I ended up racing through it in two days, unable to put it down. Each one of the children was so incredibly strong given what they'd been through.
And watching the author change from being a guy who's not sure what he's doing to the man he is at the end of the book is a wonderful process as well. At the beginning it sounds as though he's using the time volunteering to justify his later travels, but by the end of the period described in the book, the author has started a non-profit organization of his own: Next Generation Nepal to do what he can for these kids, including where possible, reuniting them with their families.
There's plenty of tension and excitement in the book too, as well as the "awww" moments where Conor is trekking through remote regions of Nepal as winter was setting in. Is he going to make it back to the city in time?
The varying happy endings really make the book - but although these kids have a happy ending in the book, with the author able to find their families, there are evidently many others still living at risk in Nepal, though thanks to Conor, it's at least twenty six fewer than there were (that being the number that the children's home he opened is able to house).
Finally, a note at the end of Little Princes states that part of the proceeds from the sale of this book go to support Next Generation Nepal.
I honestly can't recommend this book enough. It's an absolutely incredible read, tied to a good cause.