Thursday, December 1, 2016

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

In 1870, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is an elderly widower who is traveling through northern Texas giving live readings to paying audiences who are hungry for news of the world.  Having lived through three wars and fought in two, he enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.  But his world changes when he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan, Johanna, to relatives in Texas.

Johanna's parents and sister had been killed by Kiowa raiders, but she had been spared and raised as one of their own.  After being rescued by the army, she is yet again torn from the only home she knows for a 400-mile journey south through difficult and dangerous terrain with Captain Kidd. Johanna has forgotten the English language, refuses to act civilized, and throws away her shoes.  Yet, as the miles pass, the two begin to trust one another and forge a bond.

When they arrive in Texas, the Captain must hand her over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember and who regard her as an unwanted burden.  He then faces a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate, or become a kidnapper himself.  News of the World is a brilliant work of historical fiction that examines the boundaries of family, honor, trust, and responsibility and is well deserving of its selection as a 2016 National Book Award Finalist.

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