News of the World by Paulette Jiles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Awesome little book of 209 pages. It reminded me a bit of True Grit, except that Jefferson Kyle Kidd is not a drunkard. When we meet him, he has lived through three wars and has reached his seventies. His new "job" has made him a reader of newspapers and journals from all over the world. He earns his living from the coins he receives from the people who gather in various masonic lodges, churches, etc. to listen to Kidd's reports of News of the World. At one of his stops he is offered a fifty-dollar gold piece to return an ten-year-old orphan to her remaining relatives near San Antonio. She is the only survivor after Kiowa raiders slaughtered her parents and sister, leaving a little blond-haired girl to be raised by the Kiowa.
It's a long trail from Wichita Falls to San Antonio, but Kidd takes the job of transporting Johanna, who has lost understanding of the English language, to her relatives, who are German. Johanna has spent four years as a Kiowa, and at first she tries to run away back to them. Over the months of their journey, Kidd learns from Johanna, and Johanna learns from him. She learns some English and Kidd learns the ways of the Kiowa. "All animals are food, except for horses."
Kidd continues his readings along the four-hundred-mile journey, his only income. They must watch for thieves, Comanches and Kiowas. Johanna proves how resourceful and feisty she is and develops an attachment to "Kep-dun" Kidd.
No spoilers here, but the story will tear at your heart.
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