Worth Reading: News of the World by Paulette Jiles

I have just now finished the novel, News of the World by Paulette Jiles.  This was a National Book Award finalist and is a lovely, short book (216 pages) that is well worth your time.  The allure for me is that the story is set in North Texas immediately after the Civil War, and names towns that are part of my personal history.  For example, the book starts in Wichita Falls, Texas, which is two and a half hours from where I was born and raised.

The author’s style is straightforward, characterized by clean prose and deeply-evocative description.  (The specificity of the flora and fauna alone would merit a reading of this book.) The story is also simple: Captain Kidd, a man in his early 70’s who travels around North Texas reading newspaper articles from all over the world to townspeople, is asked by a freighter to accompany a ten-year-old girl back to her only living relatives near San Antonio. She has been returned by the Kiowa after living among them for six years. These same Kiowa killed the rest of her family but then raised her as one of their own. The story chronicles the travels of Captain Kidd and this young girl as they make the trek to Central Texas.

This book is rich in historical detail and also filled with human pathos.  The relationship between Captain Kidd and his “charge” is touching without being overly-sentimental.  You will find yourself wishing there were more pages devoted to their travels; however, the ending is deeply satisfying.

Here is an Amazon link to this book: