This is a wonderfully rich and engaging yarn set in 1870 Texas, about an odd couple--70 year old retired Army Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd whose print shop was on the wrong side of the war and who now travels the territory reading the "news of the world" from East Coast papers to the gathered townfolk, and orphaned 10 year old Johanna who has recently been unwillingly rescued from her Kiowa captives, having completely assimilated to Kiowa life and speaking no English. They are thrown together when he agrees to transport her to her relatives 400 miles through perilous unsettled territory. As their eventful journey unfolds complete with chicken thievery and shootouts, their uneasy partnership flowers into a friendship. Told with wit and warmth, humor and pathos, this is a book I absolutely loved. -Kris' October Staff Pick, 2016— From Kris' Reading List
National Book Award Finalist—Fiction
It is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.
In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.
Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forging a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.
Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself. Exquisitely rendered and morally complex, News of the World is a brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.