Little Princes is the story of a young American, already working in the field of international development, who becomes involved in a much more hands-on way when, as part of a trip around the world, he spends some time volunteering in an orphanage in Nepal. There, Conor Grennan not only got to know and love the children under his care, but also learned more about the problems of child trafficking in a country torn apart by civil strife.
After he leaves Nepal, Grennan is haunted by the memory of a group of children separated from their families, and vows to reunite them with their parents if he can. Fulfilling this promise involves starting a charitable foundation, returning to Nepal, opening a children’s home, making a gruelling trek into the countryside, and, incidentally, falling in love. Along the way, Conor — an engaging writer and does a believable job of portraying himself as a likeable but rather shallow guy who initially thinks volunteering in an orphanage will sound good when he’s trying pick up girls in bars — learns lots more about the plight of Nepal’s children, and also about himself. This is the kind of memoir that’s great to read because it’s like a travelogue as well as a personal journey — I knew so much more about Nepal when I had finished the book, but it was interesting mainly because I had such an interesting tour guide.
My only disappointment at the end of the book was finding out the Grennan, while still involved in working for the children of Nepal (in fact, some of the proceeds of book sales go to the foundation he set up) is living back in the US now. I kind of hoped the story would end with him in Nepal, because he really seemed to belong there.