Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is a civil war veteran, but a reader by trade. It is 1870, and Captain Kidd travels to the far parts of Texas, bringing public readings of global newspapers for a dime per person. In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 dollar gold piece to return a young girl to her relatives in San Antonio. 10 year old Johanna has spent the past four years as a hostage with a band of Kiowa, after a war party killed her parents and older sister. She barely remembers English and has become native in all the ways that count.
The story of Captain Kidd and Johanna is beautiful on so many levels. First, Paulette Giles is a gifted writer. Her descriptions of both the beauty and harshness of the dry Texas landscape make this a worthwhile read. But then she adds a story of a white girl returning to her family after years in captivity, and you have a real winner. While this particular story is fiction, the stories of children in captivity were very real, and Ms. Giles sought to shine a light on the trauma and difficulty these children endured, while not rendering judgement. That is a marvelous thing for a reader – to be able to read a story, a piece of 19th century history really, without the author placing her 21st century views on it. I loved the relationship that developed between the kindly old Captain and this young girl. As the two slowly came to trust and care for each other, I felt heartbroken along with Captain Kidd, that he must turn her over to her family.
This is the second novel I’ve read by Paulette Giles, and I’ve enjoyed both immensely. News of the World has now been released in paperback. Many thanks to William Morrow for sending me a review copy.
4 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2016
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