Chained, by Lynne Kelly takes place in India. A poor family barely has enough money to make it through each day after their father dies. When Chanda, Hastin’s sister falls ill and must go to the hospital a rich man offers to cover the expenses. The offer must be taken up, but the man wants the favor returned, so he has Amma, the mother work as his maid for a year. When Hastin sees how badly his mother is being treated, he insists she quits and that he will find a job to pay off the debt.
Hastin knows that if he wants to earn the 4, 000 rupees he needs, he better get a job that pays well. He walks around the market all day long, looking for a job and finally, he finds one. A man named Timir offers him a job at his circus that he needs to get started again. Timir promises a good life working for him, and picks Hastin up the next day. Everything seems just right, until Hastin discovers the truth about Timir, his circus and how horribly he treats the people and animals who work for him.
Hastin must work for 1 year to get the money he needs for Chanda. His job includes helping to prepare the meals for everyone, cleaning out anything that needs cleaning, chopping wood for fires, rebuilding things, giving the elephant a bath, cleaning it’s wounds, feeding it and feeding himself with food from the forest. His job is tiring and each time he does something wrong, he is punished severely. Nandita, the elephant, and Hastin develop a strong bond and this is why Hastin can’t run away. He loves Nandita so much, that he can’t bring himself to leave her with a trainer that hits her with a hook and an owner that could care less if she dies from injuries. The other reason Hastin won’t leave is because he needs the money for Chanda.
Will Hastin stay for the money and Nandita? Will he take the money that’s his and run away with Nandita? If Hastin doesn’t get the money, what will happen to his family? Read the book to find out. This book is for kids10-12 because kids this age can really relate to Hastin. I enjoyed this book the entire time and I think that some very important lessons can be learned from several of the different characters.