National Book Award Finalist 2016

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels from town to town in Texas reading the news of the world to anyone who has a dime to attend his readings. He stays away from local news because it’s just a few years after the Civil War and reading the local news could have dire consequences. Captain Kidd has served his time in two wars and is now older, a widower, and for the most part, happy with his life on the road.

At a stop in Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to return a captive girl to her relatives in San Antonio. The US government has been offering “perks” to native tribes if they turn over any captive children. Ten year old Johanna has been recently rescued by a Black man, who knows he can’t be seen traveling down south to San Antonio with a young white girl. He makes deal with Captain Kidd. Kidd gets his wagon and the $50 gold piece if he makes it to San Antonio with the girl.

But Johanna is a reluctant passenger. Her parents and siblings were killed during a Kiowa raid when she was four years old. Now she’s been torn from the only home she remembers and from her Kiowa family. She doesn’t remember how to speak English, she won’t wear shoes, and she tries to escape at every opportunity.

However, as they both face dangers and trials on their 400 mile journey, Captain and Johanna begin to trust each other and slowly form a bond of friendship and solidarity. When they reach their destination, all does not go as planned, and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd must make a precarious decision.

This little book – and it is small in size – is chock full of good story. Like when you say to someone, “Wow, that’s a good story.” It’s like that.

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Recommended by Nancy




An absolute must for any book lover and anyone who wants a comforting, cozy read.  Jenny Colgan touches on the UK’s library funding reductions and the new roles of libraries in the future but reminds us not to forget the importance of reading and the pleasure of getting just the right book.

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Recommended by Theresa


Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi


This remarkable debut novel follows the stories of two half sisters, born in Ghana in the 18th century, and their descendants. One sister, Esi, is sold into slavery and shipped to America, while the other sister, Effia, is married off to an Englishman and remains in Ghana. Each chapter alternates and is told from the point of view of a different descendant from each branch of the family, one from each generation. In this way, the novel encompasses a broad history, including war and colonization in Ghana, American slavery, the Great Migration, and more. Gyasi is a beautiful writer, and her characters are well drawn and compelling. Many of these characters experience deep hardship, but the narratives are nuanced and not entirely bleak. A very impressive debut!

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Recommended by Amy W.

Riverine by Angela Palm and Half Wild by Robin MacArthur

riverine               half-wild

These two books by up and coming Vermont writers are exceptional. Riverine by Angela Palm is a memoir and the winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. Palm recounts her childhood experiences growing up in rural Indiana. As a teenager, a neighbor boy who was her first love is imprisoned for murder. This event affects her profoundly and sends shockwaves through her small community. In beautiful and lyrical prose, Palm reflects upon place and belonging, love, family, incarceration and criminal justice.

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Half Wild by Robin MacArthur is a poignant collection of short stories that feature a disparate group of characters from a rural Vermont community. MacArthur’s characters are complex and well drawn, lively and completely memorable. She paints a nuanced portrait of life in rural Vermont, taking up themes of class, race, homecoming, and community.

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MacArthur and Palm are talented writers to watch! They will visit the Hartland Library on Wednesday, October 5th at 7pm for a joint reading. The Norwich Bookstore will be here to sell copies of their books. Please join us!

Recommended by Amy W.

The Longest Night by Andria Williams

longest night

The Longest Night is an exceptional debut novel about a largely forgotten piece of American nuclear history – a fatal nuclear accident in Idaho in 1961. At the heart of the book is the relationship between main characters Nat and Paul, as they navigate the tensions and secrets within their marriage against a backdrop of nuclear disaster. Compelling, thrilling and deeply felt. You really come to care about these characters, with all of their flaws.

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Recommended by Amy W.