by Paulette Jiles
Whew! I’m finishing up January with my seventh book read. I’m on a roll!
News of the World tells the story of Captain Jefferson Kidd, a veteran of the Civil War. Captain Kidd is somewhat of a loner, a grouchy old widower who is still plagued by memories of war, who prefers solitude to the company of people. However, to make a living, he travels from town to town reading from newspapers to paying audiences.
During his travels, he crosses paths with a representative of the U.S. army who has in his custody a ten-year-old white girl recently recovered from the Kiowa Indian band that killed her family and captured her. Captain Kidd is offered $50 to take the girl and return her to her relatives in Texas, an offer he grudgingly accepts.
Young Johanna has been so completely assimilated into her Kiowa family that she believes herself to be Kiowa. She has forgotten her biological family, her native language, and all of the white people customs she was ripped away from as a young child.
Over their 400-mile trek to Texas, Joanna gradually learns to trust Captain Kidd, whom she begins to address as “Grandfather” in Kiowa. For his part, Captain Kidd grows attached to and protective of this wild orphan girl.
When Johanna is finally reunited with her aunt and uncle in Texas, she is bewildered at being left by Captain Kidd, and her aunt and uncle are not exactly thrilled to have her thrust upon them. With many reservations, Captain Kidd does leave Johanna with them; what choice does he have? He was paid to carry out a task, and the duty must be fulfilled. Besides, the cold, stern German couple are Johanna’s next of kin.
What follows, you will have to read the book and find out for yourself.
I really enjoyed this novel. By turns tender and harrowing, it’s a fascinating portrait of a child captured by Indians who became completely assimilated into the tribe and forever considered herself Indian.