May 4, 2012

Review - Chained by Lynne Kelly (+Giveaway)

Chained by Lynne Kelly
May 8th, 2012 from Farrar Straus Giroux

After ten-year-old Hastin’s family borrows money to pay for his sister’s hospital bill, he leaves his village in northern India to take a job as an elephant keeper and work off the debt. He thinks it will be an adventure, but he isn’t prepared for the cruel circus owner. The crowds that come to the circus see a lively animal who plays soccer and balances on milk bottles, but Hastin sees Nandita, a sweet elephant and his best friend, who is chained when she’s not performing and hurt with a hook until she learns tricks perfectly. Hastin protects Nandita as best as he can, knowing that the only way they will both survive is if he can find a way for them to escape.

Chained is a story about the human spirit and a beautiful relationship between a boy and an elephant, Nandita, who are more alike than different. They are both homeless, alone, lonely, and longing to be with family. Both are in a situation they cannot see themselves out of, and when things take a turn for the worse, they both realize that they are all that they have. Their relationship is the cornerstone to this book. It goes beyond sweet and touching. Their friendship is pure, moving, and undeniable.

Hastin is a brave soul and although he is ten-years old when the story begins, he is wise beyond his years. Hastin has already lost his father and his sister is desperately ill staying in a hospital his family cannot pay for. Hastin hasn't had a picture-perfect childhood even by India's standards. He finds a job working as an elephant keeper to earn money for his sister's care. His time with the cruel circus owner is no picnic either. Hastin, and others, struggle with his hatred towards animals. Why would a man who depends on animals to make a living be so cruel? There is quite a mystery there and we learn what lays beyond the man's hatred.

This book tackles many themes and emotions. Love, honor, guilt, shame, loss...the list goes on and on. We, young ones included, can identify with at least one of the above. Hastin is a shining example of kindness, and when the story comes to a close we can't help but rejoice and wish we could see Hastin and Nandita with their own children.

Not just for kids; Chained is a testament of friendship and a God given right to be loved. Can't recommend enough!

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You can find Kelly at her website

Thanks to the folks at Macmillan, I have one copy up for grabs. Fill out the fancy doo-hickey below to be officially entered. US/CAN only. Good luck!

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