News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Texas in the early days after the Civil War is a dangerous and rough place for any travelers. For Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd,  who roams north Texas giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences who are hungry for news of the world, it is a way of life. A widower and veteran of three wars, the Captain has found that delivering the news gives him a sense of purpose, while the being on the road appeals to his solitary nature.

So when Captain Kidd is approached by an acquaintance in the US Army who offers him a $50 gold piece to take a young girl recently rescued from the Indians back to her grandparents in south Texas, Kidd is reluctant to do so. The girl was captured by the Kiowa in a raid in which both her parents and a sister were killed. Raised in the tribe as one of their own, she has forgotten any English she may have known and is bound and determined to run away back to the only family she knows, the Kiowa. Kidd is hesitant to take on this complication; after all he has a normal route to follow and going south for more than 400 miles into even more dangerous territory is just foolish. But $50 is a big incentive and in the end, Kidd agrees to take the girl back to her grandparents.

The journey is more challenging then Kidd imagined, and the child more resistant to being “civilized” than he thought she would be, but with gentle persistence and care, Kidd begins to make headway and soon they begin to operate as a team, protecting themselves from the many dangers that cross their path until they reach their destination. What should have been a happy reunion, however, turns into something ugly and dark, and Kidd must again make a decision that will change the course of his life and the child’s

Jiles is very adept and capturing the history, tone and pace of life just after the Civil War. Kidd is a gentleman, but tough and wily. The girl is complicated-not quite a part of the white world and unable to go back to her Indian family. She is smart, impetuous and savvy, and it is hard to earn her trust, but once Kidd does, she is loyal and engaging. Jiles includes wonderfully eccentric supporting characters throughout the book, who add weight and realism to their journey, but it is the complicated relationship between Kidd and the girl that draws you in and keeps you engaged with the story. This National Book Award Finalist is beautifully written, and offers us a glimpse of a time and a life that is long past but somehow still resonates today.

Brenda’s Rating: *****(5 Out of 5 Stars)

Recommend this book to: Sharon, Ken, Keith, Marian and Lauren

Book Study Worthy? YES

Read in ebook format.

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