Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR
Publisher Date: May 8, 2012
Source: DAC ARC tours
After ten-year-old Hastin's family borrows money to pay for his sister's hospital uill, 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 a s best as he can., knowing that the only way they will both survive is if he can find a way for them to escape.
Once again another book has defied all my expectations and proven I don’t always know what I like best. I only read Chained because Tara from Fiction Folio was trying to get some people to fill up slots on an ARC tour for it. I wasn’t really jazzed about reading it since it didn’t seem like my type of book at all, but I’m so glad it landed in my lap.
A lot of times we look at a book like Chained and think it’ll be silly because an animal book can’t have the same depth. Or we already know the characters will have a hard journey and will likely be triumphant in the end so we figure why bother. I’m here to tell you to stamp down those silly feelings and read it anyway because Chained is a book that deserves to be read. Sure, some of the things were a little hard to read about, but I’m still incredibly happy I got the chance to read this book.
It’s amazing the kind of depth and emotion that can be conveyed through an animal that doesn’t even talk. I loved the fact that Nandita was a real character. She had her own personality even if she lacked the words to express herself.
Hastin was such a strong boy. He was only ten when the story began and he was already stronger than I am or ever have been. He never compromised his integrity or his beliefs. He never gave up on his sister or his mother or Nandita. He didn’t even give up on Nandita’s torturer when given the chance. Everything about Hastin felt real, raw, and authentic. He’s definitely one of my favorite characters of all time.
The Nutshell: You may be tempted to cast this book aside thinking it’s not your type, but I encourage you to give it a chance. The bond between boy and elephant isn’t one you’d likely to expect to be interesting but Hastin and Nandita are proof to the contrary. Chained is a quick read that’s likely to push you outside of your comfort zone but that’s just all the more reason to read it.
Rating: Direct Hit
Rating: Direct Hit