News of the World by Paulette Jiles
Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is an aging itinerant reader of the news of the world. He travels throughout northern Texas stopping in small towns and reads from newspapers, giving his listeners a look at a world they wouldn’t dream of. At one of his stops he is asked to take a young girl, recently rescued from the Kiowa by the U.S. Army, back to her relatives near San Antonio, a journey of nearly 400 miles. For his trouble he is given $50 in silver coin.
Johanna was six years old when she was taken and she is just ten now and terrified to be taken from the only life she really remembers. She has forgotten her first life, her language, her culture, her family. Of course she tries to escape.
Through rough country and small towns, rougher people and unsettled Indian territory, the two travel and slowly open up to each other. Johanna doesn’t know what is destined to happen to her at the journey’s end and she begins to trust the Captain, calling him Grandfather in her Kiowa language.The journey is hard and the author shows us this but doesn’t dwell on it like it’s the only thing in the story. It’s the relationship building between the Captain and Johanna that’s important, a young growing thing they both begin to treasure.
When they reach Johanna’s relatives the Captain has to make some hard decisions. Does he leave Johanna, an innocent child torn from two worlds or does he not? Clearly, at 72 years of age this isn’t easy.