This is my Backlog book.
I have been meaning to read this book for a while now. Once I started it, I realized I was rereading it. Which, I will say, fits this because I had forgotten about this gem called Chained by Lynne Kelly.
To work off a debt, Hastin leaves his village in India to work as an elephant keeper for a man who wants to restart his circus. Innocent Hastin only sees a way to help his mother and ill sister, not the fact that there must be a reason for this man to need to start a new circus. Or the fact that Hastin grew up in the desert and knows nothing of the jungle. Or the fact that the only animal care he has done is for a sweet stray dog and a grumpy camel. When Hastin learns of the cruelty involved with this undertaking, he will do anything it takes to save the elephant, his new friends (the elephant and a strange old man) and even himself.
The one thing I thought of while reading (and remember from the first time) Kelly’s characters are simplistic but have a few layers. We see Hastin’s growth and the potential goodness in one of the characters. However, there is a lot of “black and white” with such characters as the circus owner. He is cruel and greedy, there is nothing else to him. I know this is to make it accessible to the age it is aimed for (10 to 14) but for the adult reader it might be too black and white. And while Kelly does not go into extreme details, there are some scenes that might be difficult to read for a sensitive reader. (Spoiler) The elephant is abused, becomes ill, and as mentioned the cruelty of the circus owner (he kills a mouse in front of Hastin) are not covered up.
Kelly advocates for the preservation of elephants and against the illegal practices many places still do towards the treatment of elephants, the poor and children workers.