Tuesday, December 06, 2016

News of the World by Paulette Jiles



News of the World by Paulette Jiles tells the story of Captain Kidd, a man who makes his living reading newspaper articles in post-Civil War Texas, and young Johanna, a girl who was kidnapped by Kiowa Indians and no longer recalls the languages or ways of white people. When Captain Kidd is offered a fifty-dollar gold piece to take Johanna to her relatives in San Antonio, he's in Northern Texas, near the Red River, the border between Texas and Indian Territory. He knows the journey will be long, arduous, and dangerous, but there's more adventure ahead of him than he imagines.

News of the World is a fairly short gulp of a book at 209 pages but it's the perfect length for the story. When Kidd meets Johanna, she's terrified and only speaks Kiowa. He's 70 years old, the father of two grown daughters who live far away, a widower. He understands young girls and is patient with Johanna. And, this is what truly makes the book. Not only is it packed with plenty of action but also a book with characters and a relationship that are utterly heartwarming. As Kidd and Johanna deal with the dangers of a lawless land, they slowly learn how to communicate with each other, trust is built, and by the time they reach San Antonio, you don't want their relationship to end.

Highly recommended - I absolutely loved News of the World and adored the characters. Excellent writing, often so lyrical that I found myself rereading sentences for the sheer joy of their beauty, perfectly paced, with wonderful characters. I loved the blend of history, action, and the building relationship. Without spoiling the ending, I will say that I found the way the book ended immensely satisfying. And, I can see why News of the World was a National Book Award finalist. Definitely a book I'll hang onto to reread, a story worth revisiting.


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6 comments:

  1. Sounds like it deserves the award. Looks good. And nice and short.

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    1. I thought it was deserving. Short is good, especially when it's done well and this book was definitely well written.

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  2. Sounds worth checking out. Great post!

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    1. I loved it, Kelly. Thanks!

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  3. I need to read this book! When I took a Great Plains Lit class at UNL, we studied the Kiowa tribe and the focus of my presentation was also about the Kiowa Indians. I had never heard of them until I took the class. Have you read The Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday? I didn't love it, but it was the main book we read during this unit on the Kiowa.

    The description of this book by Jiles reminds me a little bit of Follow the River by James Alexander, which I loved. Maybe also a little bit of These Is My Words, but that may just be because I remember (fondly!) the character Captain Jack in These Is My Words. :)

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    1. The Kiowa unfortunately don't enter into the book, apart from a brief appearance and some of Johanna's behavior, but it's a good book so you should read it, anyway. :) No, I haven't read The Way to Rainy Mountain. I do have a copy of Follow the River - haven't read that, either, but I bought it on the recommendation of another friend who reads prairie/Native American lit. And, I bought These Is My Words on your recommendation but still haven't gotten to it. I just saw it when I was hunting for another book, recently. So many books, so little time.

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