News of the World by Paulette Jiles is a National Book Award Finalist and there is no doubt in my mind why this book is on the list. It is a simply told, powerful story which captures little known or discussed occurrences in American history.
This is the story of a six-year-old girl living in Texas who was
abducted by Native American Indians during the post Civil War era. Four years later, Johanna is found and rescued. She no longer remembers her name, the language she spoke, or the life from which she was brutally taken. The bewildered child is placed in the care of a 71-year-old widower named Captain Jefferson Kidd who earns his living in dimes traveling alone from town to town bringing the news from around the world to people in remote areas. He accepts the fifty dollars offered by her aunt and uncle for her return to Castroville, a town near San Antonio, hundreds of miles away and their arduous journey begins.
Although the book is about disconnected strangers, their story gives definition to words like decency, honor, and compassion. It makes one question the meaning of ‘being civilized’.
This is a masterfully told, moving story I highly recommend.