BOOK REVIEWS

Chained Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2017-10-06 
Review Score: 5 out of 5 star From 27 user ratings
ISBN:0374312370
LANGUAGE:English

" This was an exciting read, and I kept waiting to see if Hastin and Nandita would break free. At the end however, there were many loose ends and I had hoped for them to be tied up somehow. A heartwarming story in any case, Chained is a book full of love, companionship, and the struggle to defy all odds and come out safe in the end. " said.

" 3.5 stars. I got a few books for Xander to read this summer, this being one of them. It is a beautiful little story but I think it might be a little too tough emotionally for kids Xander's age (7). It's funny because Xander took one look at the cover and said he didn't want to read it because it made him sad looking at the little elephant chained up - glad I read it first! Definitely a book for kids a little older, like 10 and up. " said.

" The Year of the Elephant books continues (in my life). So many great stories with elephant characters and themes. This one features a kid taken away from his home as he tries to do what is right for his family. He gets a job taking care of an elephant from a very disreputable man, and has to take part in capturing the elephant and has to help heal the elephant when it is treated badly. But he has an ally who helps him be bold and daring. Love the setting of India. " said.

" This novel has its own unique atmosphere, while reading it you will experience the different emotions that faced every Chained reader. It is a beautiful and heartbreaking journey and I love the serious issues that were discussed in the novel such as poverty, child laboring and injustice. Hastin, Nandita, Ne min were my favorite characters. It is a very informative novel; there were many details about the Indian culture and elephants. I recommend this book to every child, adolescent and adult. " said.

"A very special read.

A boy who misses his family, an elephant who misses hers.

"Outside, the wind blows toward my home. I hold up the handful of hair and release it to a gust of wind and watch it fly away. I dream that the wind is strong enough to carry it all the way to my village, where it will help make a nest for a bird. And Amma will see the wavy black hair woven into a next and know that I am alright." (p. 139)

A coming of age story in which the boy has to make his own family in a terrible situation, from an animal and an old man who are all bound together by love and regret and hope.

The men in the book are on a spectrum of good but sad, mean but small, and full of regret.

"One who is brave inside does not have to use fear to control others," he says. "You are braver than Timir will ever be." (p. 150)

"A weaker stone would have crumbled away into nothing." (p.230)
" said.

"The story is one of an unlikely friendship between Hastin, a ten-year-old boy, and an elephant. Hastin, man of the family since his father’s death, must take a job as an elephant keeper far from home to pay off a family debt. Though he’ll miss his mom and sister, Hastin is excited for the adventure that awaits. But nothing could prepare him for the cruelty both he and the elephant, Nandita, endure. Their bond is tighter than the shackles on Nandita’s feet and their love and friendship allow them to bear captivity and abuse. But Hastin knows neither of them will survive like this forever. They must try to escape.

Author Lynne Kelly uses beautiful language to illustrate a world so vivid and honest; with scenes so deeply created you’ll be able to smell the sweet mangos boiling at breakfast. As I said, there’s much to love, but mostly you’ll root for Hastin and Nandita to finally break free.
" said.

"To be fair, I didn't finish this book, so my impressions at page 82/242 are incomplete. Maybe this is a really great book starting in Chapter 12!

It probably says a lot about my personality that I made it through the poverty, childhood diseases, indentured servitude, classism, families being broken apart, animal cruelty, and child slavery -- but when it came time to beat the baby elephant, I tapped out. Looking back, I should have put this book down a lot sooner. I hung in there during some dark, depressing, bleak ruination of human children's lives, but it was hurting the baby elephant that took it over the top and ended the book for me. I feel pretty gross about myself that I made it that far. I wanted to quit when the circus slave master killed the little mouse that was Hastin's only friend, but disgustingly I hung in for a few more chapters.

Do you like elephants? Definitely do not read this book. Baby elephants? AVOID. How about innocent human children? Yes? Then I can't recommend this book.

No, I don't think all stories should be sanitizied for children's consumption. I've read enough Bettelheim to know that kids need to hear age-appropriate dark and scary stories a much as happy and fun stories. But oh my goodness no age is appropriate for this one. The evil people are so awful and greedy and cruel, and the good people are so weak and powerless and poor. And then, like I said, the baby elephant. I can't imagine it was intended to make the reader feel anything but sickening guilt and mounting dread? I found it unbearable.

It's my opinion that kids don't need to know the full extent of cruelty that humans are capable of. They already believe that ruining a family over hospitals bills is wrong, slavery is wrong, child slavery is wrong, and animal cruelty is wrong. So this book isn't teaching any lessons, except maybe, "It's actually way worse than your sweet young mind could even dream." Is that how you want to spend your twenty minutes with your kid at bedtime? Me neither.
" said.

"Meet Chanda. She is the catalyst for today’s review of Chained, a smart, well-written, and engrossing novel by Lynne Kelly. Chanda is a young girl bitten by fever mosquitoes and now carries a dangerously high temperature. She needs medical help now. With the help of a neighbor, Amma, her mother, takes Chanda to the hospital in the city. Left behind to care for things at home is Chanda’s older brother, Hastin.

Thus begins an engaging story of one young boy’s quest to help the three women in his life, though he has yet to meet the third. Chanda’s care will cost the family 4000-rupee they do not have. Without her husband to help, Amma barters her services as a house cleaner in exchange for the needed money. Hastin does not like the accommodations Amma resides in during her one-year stay and is determined to find a job and send Amma home. Finding a job is no easy task when you are a young boy of ten, with little skills.

Enter Timir, a once prosperous circus owner who is determined to return to his former glory. He needs an elephant keeper. Hastin needs a job. Timir will graciously talk to the rich man and pay off Amma’s debt, and add a salary Hastin will collect at the end of his one-year stint as the elephant keeper. There is a catch. Timir does not own an elephant. He expects Hastin to help trap one in the jungle. Chup! No one should know this, he tells Hastin. Timir promises this job is more adventure than work. Hastin has never seen the jungle, having lived all his life is the dessert.

Two other characters are essential in this story. One is Sharad, the elephant trainer who trained under one of the best elephant trainers, but has forgotten most of what he learned. The other is the circus cook, Ne Min, an older man with much elephant experience. Ne Min is like a wise grandfather, but with secrets that bring him shame.

Fast forward past some wonderful prose and scenes that will throw your emotions topsy-turvy and Timir has his elephant. Hastin names the elephant Nandita and the two become best friends. Hastin must feed, bathe, and sleep with Nandita. He cares for any injuries or ills she may acquire. None of these tasks is easy.
Timir, the once jovial employer-in-need, has chained both Hastin and Nandita. He chains Nandita around the neck and feet, while chaining Hastin to a debt Timir seems reluctant to let the boy work off his debt. Timir is a paranoid and angry man with a cruel streak. Each time he thinks Hastin has broken one of his rules, Timir adds another three months onto the loan agreement. Neither the young boy nor the young elephant think they will ever get out from under Timir’s brutal thumb.

I need to stop here. There is so much action in Chained that I could write twice the normal review. I adore this book. It is one of the, no, it is the best book I have read from a debut author and the best book by anyone so far this year. Chained is a novel all aspiring authors need to deconstruct. It is near perfect execution of craft. Scenes unfold naturally without one unnecessary word and the plot is unusual, well researched, and builds to the perfect ending that will satisfy the reader. The well-defined characters have unforgettable personalities, including Nandita. This is the kind of writing editors and publishers are looking for.

The story is set in Northern India and features two distinct regions: the dessert and the jungle. Important subjects include family, loyalty, honor, and trust. Chained is a good choice for social studies teachers. The story contains many concepts a teacher can use to great success in her classroom. Being well constructed, in addition to being wonderfully told, makes Chained a great choice for a book report. The issue of animal care, wild animal care in particular, can lead off a classroom discussion that will every student interested.

Chained is also a story boys and girls will not put down, if they can get it away from their parents long enough to read it. Yes, Chained is a middle grade book. Yes, Chained could be marketed to adults, it is that good, that engaging of a story. If you can only purchase one book, make it Chained. This one is going to be on every library’s most requested list.

Received book from the publisher, Farra Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers

Originally reviewed at Kid Lit Reviews
http://kid-lit-reviews.com/2012/06/12...
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