I’m on a roll with really, really good books lately. This is a good thing, but makes the review part more tricky. My reviews for books that move me tend to be sort of bland. I think that I am trying not to get all “Read This Right Now!” and fan girly about it and that restraint leads to ho-hum reviews. I am sorry about that. So, I guess for this one I will say READ THIS RIGHT NOW !
This is a tiny little book. It’s just over 200 pages and the hardcover version that I got from the library is physically small, maybe two inches shorter in height than your average hardcover book. I don’t know if that was a publishing choice, but kudos to them if it was intentional. The smallness of the outside of the book and how it feels in your hands is an apt metaphor for what is going on INSIDE the book. There is a feeling, while reading this book, that you are a caretaker of this little story, so you should handle it with care.
In 1870, Captain Kidd, a 70-year-old war veteran and widower with grown children, travels throughout northern Texas reading newspaper articles from around the world to a captive audience for a dime a head. He is content with his vagabond life until he is tasked with taking a 10-year-old girl, Joanna, from northern Texas to San Antonio to reunite her with her extended family. Four years prior, a Kiowa Indian raiding party killed the girl’s parents and sister but kept her and raised her as their own. When the US Army forces Joanna’s Kiowa mother to hand her over, she is passed on to the Captain who must navigate a treacherous region with the confused and traumatized little girl. Fully assimilated into the Kiowa culture, Joanna no longer speaks English nor remembers anything about her former life.
Texas in 1870 is fresh from the Civil War, rife with Indian raiding parties and general lawlessness. As the mismatched pair make their way to San Antonio, they are forced to work together in a harsh landscape of raging waters and marauding human predators. It is a tender story about loss and family and the power of a little human kindness. I cannot recommend it enough. The beauty that is inside this tiny little book will take your breath away.