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Chained Redefines Connections and Breaking Free of Shackles

By Sowmya Nandakumar

HOUSTON: What could possibly be the connection between Galesburg, Illinois, Houston, Texas, and a story of an elephant set against an Indian backdrop? Author Lynne Kelly! She was born in Illinois, moved to Houston, TX, majored in psychology, and is now a writer.

Her first book Chained is the story of a 10 year old boy, Hastin who lives in the desert lands of North India. His sister falls ill and the family is forced to borrow money to pay for her treatment. The family is now in debt and the burden of pitching in to help the family’s dire circumstances, falls on the shoulders of this little boy. He makes a brave journey away from home to a faraway jungle to work as an elephant keeper for a circus owner.  Here, Hastin meets his best friend the elephant, Nandita.  He discovers that the circus owner is an extremely cruel man, who keeps Nandita, chained when she is not performing tricks and he also punishes her badly until she learns and masters a trick to perfection.

Hastin deeply misses his family and feels chained by his life circumstances and commitments. He senses this same feeling of yearning in Nandita. Nandita is also away from her elephant family and possibly longs to be reunited with them. Just like Hastin she also probably wants to break free of her shackles and the dominance of this cruel circus owner. Will Hastin and Nandita manage to break free and go back to where they really belong? If they do manage an escape, what happens to this deep connection that nature has brought between them? If Nandita joins her elephant family, will Hastin ever see his best friend again – after all they were perhaps together during the toughest of times.  Through Hastin and Nandita, Lynne Kelly, the author, writes this perhaps poignantly resonating story that explores nature’s connections at various levels –the relationship between man and animal, humankind and nature, man and the environment,  the fundamental desire and right of all living beings to be born free and to live free.  Friendship, mutual respect, the profound principle of ‘live and let live’ and freedom for all are probably the most resounding themes of this story.

Lynne Kelly majored in psychology in college, worked as a sign language interpreter and a special education teacher. She loved teaching kids and re-discovered children’s literature during her teaching years. She decided to write Chained after she learned that when a young elephant is chained, it tries hard to escape but gives up after sometime; this elephant grows with that chain and never realizes after it has grown that it actually has the strength to break free of its shackles. Just not knowing its true strength, the elephant lives a life of bondage. This fascinating fact about elephants made her want to write a story about them. Her biggest challenge while writing this book was perhaps, understanding India, and Indian culture, which were all quite alien to this Illinois born Houstonian!

On Saturday, May 12, at 2:00 pm, Chained book launch party will be held at the Blue Willow Bookshop, 14532 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX  77079. For more information visit:

The first chapter of the book can also be read at


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