Wednesday, April 26, 2017

News of the World,by Paulette Jiles (author), Grover Gardner (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, March 2016

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, former printer, is, in 1870, an old man, in his seventies. Having lost his business in the economic collapse of the Confederate states after the war, he's making his living as an itinerant news reader. Kidd travels the state of Texas, going from small town to small town, reading selections of national and international news to listeners who pay ten cents a person to listen. It's a form of entertainment as well as a way to get the news.

After one of these readings, he's asked to take a young girl, captured and raised by Kiowa Indians, back to her relatives The problem is that the girl, now ten years old, was six when her family was murdered and she was taken, and she seemingly remembers nothing of her life before that trauma.

As they travel across Texas, we get to know Captain Kidd, and see some of the disruption and disorder of Texas during Reconstruction. We also get a look at what was a very real and present problem in America when there was still frontier: Children and young adults captured by Indian tribes and adopted by them often didn't want to be rescued and were permanently changed by their experiences. Kidd's problem isn't just to transport a young girl several weeks' travel through territory that is not always safe. He also has to reintroduce her to the English language and very different clothing and customs, while ensuring she doesn't run away attempting to rejoin the Kiowa.

It's an education for her; it's also an education for him.

The character building here is beautiful. The good, the bad, and those just trying to survive are all convincingly real people, facing challenges often glossed over in the history books as they concentrate on larger events. Captain Kidd and his friends and acquaintances are well worth spending some time with.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.