on January 1st 1970
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After the civil war, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a traveling news reader, agrees to transport a 10 year old girl who had been kidnapped and held captive by the Kiowa, back to her people. Captain Kidd has seen three wars and fought in two of them. He is a widower with two adult daughters. He travels reading the newspaper to people for a fee to keep them up to date on the “News of the World”.
He accepts payment to return Johanna to her family in Texas. Johanna has lived as a Kiowan and does not really remember her life before coming to live with the tribe. Four years earlier, the Kiowa murdered her parents and sister while deciding to keep her and raise her as their own. Johanna has fully adapted to their way of life and has a hard time transitioning to being a “proper young lady” While traveling with her, Kidd forms a bond with her while trying to teach her English and proper behavior. She does not adapt well but forms a bond with Kidd. She calls him Kep-dun and even helps him fight in a battle which helps bring them together. After their battle, she no longer tries to escape and they fall into a comfortable routine together.
Eventually they make it to her only family. Captain Kidd immediately has reservations and worries about leaving Johanna but he did accept payment to deliver her and feels obligated to leave her with her family. But what makes you family with someone? What do you do when faced with a moral dilemma?
I really enjoyed the budding relationship between Captain Kidd and the young Johanna. He shows her tenderness, boundaries and care. He is always understanding of her difficulties adjusting to no longer being a captive. He makes for a very likable character. Speaking of likable characters, Johanna is one as well. I loved seeing her rebel, try to help and slowly come to trust and like Kep-dun! Their relationship was the gem in the book for me. Having said that there were also stretches of this book that bored me -especially the history parts. I found myself wanting to skim through them to get back to the interactions of Kidd and Johanna.
I would have given a higher rating except for the parts which failed to grab me. Overall a good book emotionally moving book. I just got bored in parts and wished the book would have moved a little faster.
There is a lot of hype for this book and I feel for the most part that it is well deserved. This book is a National Book Award Finalist.