Saturday, November 4, 2017

*Review* News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: October 4, 2016
Pages: 229

In the aftermath of the American Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this morally complex, multi-layered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers 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, forming 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.

This was a library book club pick for October. Apparently a bunch of gulf coast libraries get together and decide on a book to read or something, I’m not exactly sure how it works. I just know it meant this was the selection and that’s why I read it.

Amusingly, the hold at all 3 of my library systems was way too long and I would not recieve the book in time, so I ended up getting it from Audible for about $5 because there was a sale. That was good times.

Okay, so this is the story of a little girl that was kidnapped and raised by the Kiowa from about the age of 6. She’s around 8 during the time of this story. Anyway, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is paid about $50 to retrieve the girl and bring her down to her relatives further south in Texas. And that’s exactly what he intends on doing.

There’s a whole lot of drama going on, action-wise. Because it’s like 1860 and a traveling old man and young girl pair isn’t the safest of things. And stuff happens. My favorite part though has to deal with the chickens. Especially with how Captain Kidd handles the situation. He’s good people.

For the most part I liked the story. But I also ended up applying some more modern aspects to it. One thing that I thought of often while I was reading it was whether or not it’s more important for a child to live with their family if there’s another option that’s more comfortable for them. Is society’s views on how a child should be raised more important than the happiness of the child? It’s a whole bunch of thinking that shouldn’t really be thought during this book, because it doesn’t at all answer it.

I don’t know if the end was supposed to be “feel good” or whatever, but I didn’t like it. I guess it fits for the time period… but I just thought of Johanna as much more … I don’t exactly know how to explain it. It wasn’t a bad ending… it’s just disappointing. Amusingly, only one other person at my library book club agreed with me on that.

3.000005 and 1/100th platypires. - Joood - Hooligan

My website is I review books and say shocking things and include outrageous pictures.

Paulette Jiles was born in Salem, Missouri, in the Missouri Ozarks. Raised in small towns in both south and central Missouri, she attended three different high schools, an exhausting process of social dislocation and fashion wobbles, and with relief graduated from the University of Missouri (KC) in Romance Languages. After graduation she worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto and in the far north of Ontario and in the Quebec Arctic, helping to set up village one-watt FM radio stations in the native language, Anishinabe and Inuktitut. She became reasonably conversant in Anishinabe but Inuktitut was just too much. Very hard. Besides she was only in the eastern Arctic for a year. Work in the north lasted about ten years all told. 

She taught at David Thompson University in Nelson B.C. and grew to love the British Columbian ecosystems and general zaniness. She spent one year as a writer-in-residence at Philips Andover in Massachusetts and then returned to the United States permanently when she married Jim Johnson, a Texan. Has lived in Texas since 1995. 

She and her husband renovated an old stone house in the San Antonio historic district and amidst the rubble and stonemasons and ripped-out electrical systems she completed Enemy Women. She now lives on a small ranch near a very small town in the Texas Hill Country with a horse and a donkey. If you want a free donkey, please let her know. She plays Irish tin whistle with a bluegrass group, sings alto in choir, rides remote trails in Texas with friends. Her horse is named Buck. News of the World (William Morrow) was a finalist for the National Book Award.

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