He travels through the countryside reading the news, collecting ten-cents a head to those who gather and listen to it. The year is 1870 and on one of his stops, he is asked to take a 10-year-old white girl to her relatives, as they feel he would have better luck seeing her to her destination, as he too is white. During this 400-mile journey, as the distance becomes shorter, their relationship deepens.
Captain Kidd had the girl stripped and cleaned up before he left town with her. Joanna had been living with the Kiowa Indians for the past four years after they had captured her, and now free from that lifestyle, she needs to make some lifestyle changes and she has some learning to do. Captain bought a wagon to make traveling easier and after he loaded up their gear, they were gone. Captain tried to teach Johanna various skills and techniques that he thought she should know and she was a quick learner. Johanna taught the Captain a few skills that she had learned from the Indians as she was growing up and the Captain soon realized that she wasn’t as helpless as he thought. Soon Johanna was jumping in to help before Captain had to ask. Needing money, they would spend the night in a town where the Captain could do one of his readings. The Captain would find someone to sit with Joanna as he wasn’t sure if she would stay while he was gone. The Captain would try to find an adult to supervise her which didn’t always work out. Many times, he would have to hunt her down as these adults were not always competent enough to watch her. Captain had a job to do but he soon began to wonder if all this hassle was worth it.
I found myself drawn into the relationship of these two. Johanna is still attached to her Indian lifestyle and she wants to go back to them. She is used to the outdoors, the countryside and nature’s way of doing thing. Captain thinks of Joanna’s future: living under a roof, cooking on a stove, wearing dresses and being a proper lady and he doesn’t know how she will manage these changes or if she will. I liked how Captain was determined only to read what he thought was proper during his readings. He did not want fights or arguments to occur them and he stood up to others when they questioned him about what he read.
When I read the synopsis of this novel, I was skeptical whether this novel would be something I would enjoy. This novel surprised me as once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. I’m glad the book club choose this novel as it is something I would have never picked up on my own.