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News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Published on Wednesday, September 6, 2017

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

A Short but Satisfying Read

Captain Kyle Kidd lost mostly everything in the Civil War, including his printing press.  In the years after the War, he made his living as an itinerant reader of the world news, travelling from small town to small town in the rough and wild Texas territory.

At one outpost, two Black freighters pay him Kidd $50 to take Johanna, a ten-year-old white orphan who had been kidnapped by the Kiowa six years earlier, and return her to her relatives 400 miles away.  Kidd reluctantly agrees to take on the task.  The girl is unclean, untrained in manners and customs of her early childhood.  Johanna only speaks the language of the Kiowa, she doesn’t like wearing the clothing of white people, she is scared, frustrated, angry, and possibly dangerous.   

A man of duty and honor, and despite his advancing years, Kidd braves the long, rigorous, and treacherous journey to united Johanna with her relations.  Along the way, they learn to communicate with one another and develop a relationship built on kindness, trust, and mutual respect.  At long last, Johanna is returned to her relatives.  Unfortunately, she is unwanted except possibly as an extra farm hand.  When Kidd learns that Johanna is unloved and has been mistreated by her relatives, he returns for her, and essentially spirits her away and into his own care.

This is a wonderful tale about courage, moral dilemma, honor, and sacrifice.  I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good yarn, admirable characters, and great descriptive writing.  

I highly recommend News of the World to book groups.  It’s a short read, but there’s much to discuss.

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