Length: 209 pgs / 6 hrs 42 min audio

Overall: 🐒🐒🐒


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Writing Style:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Character Development:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.


Rating: 3 out of 5.

“Laughter is good for the soul and all your interior works.”

News of The World by Paulette Jiles

The Story:

It is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings 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, forging 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 rememberβ€”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 becomeβ€”in the eyes of the lawβ€”a kidnapper himself. 

Key Elements:

Fiction, Historical Fiction, Wilderness, Life Experience, Western, Literary Fiction, 1800s, Reading, Texas, Family, Travel

Why This Rating?

I think this was a pretty good historical fiction book. The moments that keep the book accurate to the time period are on point and the details of those elements were beautiful! I could see those long empty stretches of land with the wagon tracks showing you the way forward. The amount of research that must have gone into understanding the different indigenous people that lived in the lands that the characters traveled through is so amazing. Jiles’ effort was totally worth it! And since we got to see from both of the main character POV, I got to see the effects of Johanna not growing up in the white settlements but with the Kiowa people. Customs are so different and the struggle between Capt. Kidd and Johanna to understand each other and make peace as they traveled was a wonderful touch. Because in reality, it would be just as difficult.

The cities and towns that Capt. Kidd and Johanna were so surprising to me too. I know I learned about the different era’s and about the way people lived back then, but I forget those studies sometimes and how independent those people really were. Especially considering the length of time news spread and the true lack of governmental enforcement there was. Farther away from the big cities the more independent the communities were. It rested on the shoulders of the people to stay alive and lawful – in a sense. I tend to forget just how spaced out everything was at that time in the States. I mean, the United States is a HUGE span of land. It takes days to travel that by car now a days and we can go 60+ mph on straight aways. They had the OP horse power and at the mercy of the way the land was. our few day trip was truly weeks long. Hard to wrap my head around sometimes.

Can I just take a moment to appreciate that Capt. Kidd is freaking 71 in this book! Like this man should be relaxing and just chilling. But instead (Cue title scene) he is bringing news in newspapers to cities that are mostly illiterate and reading – for a fee that is – about what is happening in the world. It is their own from of story telling since some of these places are so far away they don’t even seem real. I love this concept! Although, I’m not sure if this title really fits the story. If you see the story as him traveling around and reading the news to people and Johanna is just a secondary piece to the plot, then yes this would be a perfect title. But I felt like it was the other way around. He was still making money by doing what he does for a living. However, the point of the story was the adventure and challenges Capt. Kidd and Johanna had while traveling to her family. Perhaps a title like Johanna or The Clay Road? Those would work really nice! – Sorry just a side tangent about titles.

I like the book. I would recommend it if you like Historical Fiction stories or stories about the wild west in the 1870s (less about cowboys and shooting fights but leaning more towards the state of the country and the land being a bit more hostile to travelers). Or if you want to read it because of the movie that came out. I enjoy comparing the books and movies to see where one was better or worse than the other.Β 

Time to get lost in the next story!

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