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Inspiring,
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2 reviews

West with Giraffes: A Novel
by Lynda Rutledge

Published: 2021-02-01T00:0
Hardcover : 356 pages
5 members reading this now
105 clubs reading this now
2 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 2 members
An emotional, rousing novel inspired by the incredible true story of two giraffes who made headlines and won the hearts of Depression-era America.

“Few true friends have I known and two were giraffes…”

Woodrow Wilson Nickel, age 105, feels his life ebbing away. But when he ...

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Introduction

An emotional, rousing novel inspired by the incredible true story of two giraffes who made headlines and won the hearts of Depression-era America.

“Few true friends have I known and two were giraffes…”

Woodrow Wilson Nickel, age 105, feels his life ebbing away. But when he learns giraffes are going extinct, he finds himself recalling the unforgettable experience he cannot take to his grave.

It’s 1938. The Great Depression lingers. Hitler is threatening Europe, and world-weary Americans long for wonder. They find it in two giraffes who miraculously survive a hurricane while crossing the Atlantic. What follows is a twelve-day road trip in a custom truck to deliver Southern California’s first giraffes to the San Diego Zoo. Behind the wheel is the young Dust Bowl rowdy Woodrow. Inspired by true events, the tale weaves real-life figures with fictional ones, including the world’s first female zoo director, a crusty old man with a past, a young female photographer with a secret, and assorted reprobates as spotty as the giraffes.

Part adventure, part historical saga, and part coming-of-age love story, West with Giraffes explores what it means to be changed by the grace of animals, the kindness of strangers, the passing of time, and a story told before it’s too late.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

From the author:

• Life during the Great Depression
• Value of such a historical novel for perspective of current hard times
• The Dust Bowl and other ecological issues then/now and our part in them
• Human's relationships with and obligation to animals (and other humans)
• Endangered/extinct species--why it matters: Old Man's sky-blanketing passenger pigeons (pp. 2, 86, 238) & Author's Note
• Treatment of Blacks in those times vs. now
• Treatment of women in those times vs. now
• Treatment of the very elderly
• Zoos vs. circuses--then/now (See Author's Note)
• Tolerance of lying and stealing in desperate times
• The unanswered questions about the Old Man's past and why Author left us to wonder
• Red's "bucket list": The spectre of a weak heart/short life to fuel her culture-busting dream-chasing
• How childhood shapes us and how much power we have to change it
• My favorite: Power of storytelling (why Woody is writing his story and why it matters; see TED talk quote in Author's Note)

• Be sure to read the novel's Author's Note for points mentioned above--but also for overall spurring of discussion: I tell why I wrote it, how I uncovered the true story and especially about how/why today's best zoos have turned into conservation organizations. [NOTICE: The Kindle version has all the back information, including the Authors Note, Historical Notes, and Acknowledgements. Just keep scrolling. ;)

Suggested by Members

Several topics in this book seem old fashioned, such as racism and animal cruelty. How have we changed?
Do you think animal lovers are more worthy humans?
by StaceyManos (see profile) 02/15/21

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by AnnieB20 (see profile) 09/11/22

 
by NancieD (see profile) 01/01/22

 
  "West with Giraffes"by StaceyManos (see profile) 02/15/21

This light, enjoyable book is hard to put down. It’s historical fiction told in a lovely way. Brings up some good, relevant conversation starters Loved it.

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