Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, an elderly widower and civil war veteran, travels throughout northern Texas reading the newspaper to live audiences. He is enjoying his solitary existence until one day he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a rescued orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, Johanna was taken by a band of Kiowa raiders who killed her family and took her to be raised as one of their own. It is the only life she knows.

Although their 400 mile journey south proves dangerous and difficult (Johanna has forgotten the English language and tries to escape at every opportunity), the two slowly begin to trust each other and forge a bond that ultimately means survival in the unsettled and treacherous land.

Finally arriving in San Antonio, the captain is faced with a terrible choice – hand Johanna over to relatives she does not remember and who regard her as a burden, or break the law and become a kidnapper himself?

How do you feel about the choice the captain made at the end?

What does “family” mean to each of the characters – the captain, Johanna, her aunt and uncle, the Kiowa?

The movie adaptation starring Tom Hanks was released in December 2020. If you haven’t seen it, does reading the book make you want to see it? Was the book or movie better?

Here is a link to more discussion questions.