A review of News of the World by Paulette Jiles

I have submitted 9800 words to my writing instructor.

A good portion are terrible and even though I am outlined, I am not sure what the most critical scenes will be, since I added some since the outline, to get me to the first major plot point.  At least I decided what that plot point was.  But the ten thousand or so words left to get there…not sure.

I’ll be interested to see what she says when we talk on Skype on Monday.  I might write more until then, I am sure I need to.

I continue to be saved from my angst via ReadHarder.  I like that this year’s list, although heavy on the comics again for some reason with one celebrity memoir allows me to read some books I have been eyeing for awhile.

I did not realize that the Western category would be one of them. Not until my local library posted that News of the World counted as a Western (I guess I thought it took place more in the East after the Civil War) did I dive right in without hesitation.  I am keeping my library abreast of my progress too as a community project.

news of the world.jpg

News of the World, Paulette Jiles

So I think I need to redo one of my favorite sayings, ‘white people problems’ to ‘modern day white people problems’ because although they might be fewer in this book than if the main characters were recovering and trying to set up their lives post slavery, they still had some pretty serious challenges.

Dang, this book was good.  And maybe not only because I love historical fiction, but it had to do with family and attachment, the bonds that get us through the harsh realities.  All fiction can capture that.  This was not about defeating other peoples to live out on the edge of society, which is my prejudice against Westerns. Isn’t this challenge about giving all sorts of reading a try?  I have found something to like in almost every new thing I have tried, even though it won’t make me love comics and never will.

It is about a man who brings some society to the less established places in Texas via reading news from papers all over the world.  He took to the road after family bonds loosened for a time in his own life and he rather enjoys it, until he takes on the responsibility of taking a young white girl, captured young into a Native American tribe and then sold back to white people a few years later, back to her family.  The family in question is a German aunt and uncle and the girl has long since adopted the Kiowa tribe ways and does not want to go back to the strange world of the white people.  He is given the task because he is already a traveler of long distances, but also because he is a principled older gentleman who was not going to rape her.

They really come together over an incident where she shows her talents as a survivor in battle, and from then on, I root for their grandfather/granddaughter relationship.  I love it when characters from different worlds find commonalities in one another and come together as an unexpected unit.

And the setting…oh, Ms Jiles paints the flooding springtime Texas frontier, the people, the political dramas of the times.   The danger and the adventure.

This one is not light but I liked being in its world for awhile as a distanced reader with a warm bed.  I can’t get into specifics on my favorite parts, but suffice it to say that Jiles is not so naive and disappointing to think that a girl raised for a few years as a native could be happy roped into a euro-American woman’s life.  She makes it work for Johanna in a believable way, which was satisfying. I was not surprised at all when she noted at the end of the book that she researched these children taken from short lives with Native Americans and how they all wanted to go back to them, even if they only lived with them a few months.  I highly recommend this one and I am not surprised I have seen it recommended so much around me.

BookRiot helps me survive on.  Also, light knitting, staying active, the BBC’s miniseries of North&South and finding new episodes of The Worst Witch on Youtube are also getting me through when my brain feels dead, and getting out and doing some things with the boy, like playing in the snow and going swimming.   I feel like even though she won’t see it this round I need to continue writing out my scenes for my book to figure out where it all goes.  The only way to really find it is to write it.  Never mind the dead brain.


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