Friday, April 22, 2011

Snapshot Book Review: Little Princes

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellently written. This book something like a cross between travel writing and autobiography, with a very strong narrative and wonderful insights into Grennan's own psyche. His fervor to "save" the orphans is well depicted, yet he does not romanticize his internal journey to reach that fervor; Grennan is completely honest that he did not set out with the intention of being a martyr. He simply found that he could not stand by idly in the face of human immorality. The fact that it is a success story does not diminish the harshness of reality in Nepal, and Grennan fairly depicts the city and its people, with an obvious bias toward his colleagues and the children, of course.

My two major criticisms are somewhat personally related: firstly, Grennan does not do an accurate enough job of describing the physical agony he endured during his solo trip to round up the orphans. He tells his readers of his bodily ailments, but unlike the way he forces us to feel his moral struggles and ambitions, he does not allow us to feel his bodily pain and the struggles that causes. Physical pain can be mentally devastating, and I think it would have enhanced his narrative to give that aspect a bit more attention.

Secondly, Grennan uses his ending as a subtle platform for Christianity--something I did not expect and did not appreciate. I have no problem with his converting or being proud of that conversion. However, I don't think it is fair to assume his readers will agree that God is to thank for everything, especially his romantic relationship. I hope he will go read a bit of Ayn Rand and then go back and take some credit for his accomplishments, because even if they are something "any moral human being would do," he actually took the initiative, and that is something of which he should be proud.

These points aside, I think this is certainly a memoir worth reading, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in reading about charity work, foreign travel, personal adventure, and of course, children.

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