West With Giraffes [Book Review] #HistoricalFiction #Giraffes

West With Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge

West With Giraffes is unputdownable historical fiction featuring two giraffes, a desperate orphan, and a cross-country road trip.

West With Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge (cover) Image: black text over a grayed out map

Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, Animals, 1938 United States, Dust Bowl

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My Summary of West With Giraffes:

Inspired by true events, West With Giraffes recounts the 1938 cross-country twelve-day road trip of two giraffes and one desperate orphan. Unlikely companions, endurance, and overcoming obstacles are highlights of the story.

two giraffes at the San Diego Zoo

My Thoughts:

Which is your favorite animal to visit at the zoo?

If You Like…

If you resonate with vibes of News of the World (road trip, two unlikely companions), Water For Elephants (story-telling structure, animal friends), and Out of the Dust (dust bowl experiences), you will find that West With Giraffes is page-turning, heartfelt, and unputdownable.

giraffes in truck ready for a cross country trip

Newspaper article recounting the trip.

Interesting, Fascinating, Unique, and Unputdownable

Yep! I liked this compelling story for its unique content and historical interest. I’ve been to the San Diego Zoo many times and I appreciate hearing about the arrival of the first giraffes and the role that the first woman zoo director played in their acquisition.

Multi-layered and Fast Paced Plot

I love a complex story, and West With Giraffes has a few storylines that keep you turning pages: the transportation of giraffes (Will the giraffes live? What obstacles will they face?); the Dust Bowl (horrendous conditions); coming of age (Woody, a 17-year-old orphan strikes out on his own); the multigenerational friendship between Woody and the older man (father figure); a budding romance; and a perilous journey fraught with obstacles and setbacks. It was a riveting newspaper story in 1938.

“The first time a poor soul gets a bit of grace in his wretched life, especially from a man who, by his own pronouncements, abides no chicanery, it’s a hard thing to recognize let alone accept, and even harder to trust.”  ~Woody


Thoughtful themes include endurance, determination, friendship, taking risks, caring for animals, compassion, coming of age, the kindness of strangers, following your dream, and multigenerational friendship.

Recommending West With Giraffes

I’m highly recommending West With Giraffes for fans of animal stories, multigenerational friendships, and coming-of-age content. Thanks for the encouragement to move this to my priority TBR Gail @ The Junia Project. West With Giraffes would also make an excellent book club selection (especially for Southern California folks who have visited the San Diego Zoo). Mature YA readers might also enjoy this story!

My Rating:  5  Stars


West With Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge (cover) Image: black text over a grayed out map

More Information Here

Meet the Author of West With Giraffes, Lynda Rutledge

Author of West With Giraffes, Lynda RutledgeLynda Rutledge, a lifelong animal lover, has had the joy of petting baby rhinos, snorkeling with endangered turtles, and strolling with a tower of giraffes in her eclectic freelance career, writing nonfiction for well-known publications and organizations while winning awards and residencies for her fiction.

Her new novel, “West with Giraffes,” was inspired by the incredible true story of two giraffes who made headlines and won the hearts of Depression-era America.

Her debut novel, “Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale,” winner of the 2013 Writers League of Texas Book Award, was adapted into the major 2019 French film La Dernière Folie de Claire Darling, starring Catherine Deneuve. She, her husband, and resident dog live outside Austin, Texas.

For more, visit her website: http://www.lyndarutledge.com


Is this new release on your TBR or have you read it?

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  1. if i picked just one animal at the zoo all the others would get jealous. so i’ll have to say all of them.this looks like an interesting read. i am going to order it.

  2. My favorite animal at the San Diego Zoo (I’ve only been there once) is the koala bear. But all of the animals are fascinating. I like the sound of this one, Carol! Thanks for putting it on my radar.

  3. I have not heard of this book, Carol, but it sounds wonderful. I love stories about animals and have read several that took place during this period of history, so I think I would enjoy this one. I will have to see if my library has this one. Excellent review. I am off to read the newspaper article now.

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