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West with Giraffes Review – A Heartwarming Journey of Adventure and Friendship

  • Author: Lynda Rutledge
  • Originally published: February 2021
  • Page Count: 357 pages, Hardcover
  • Genre: Historical, Fiction

Embark on an unforgettable journey across the vast American landscape with ‘West with Giraffes,’ a heartwarming novel penned by the talented author, Lynda Rutledge. This enchanting tale is a captivating blend of historical fiction and adventure that leaves a lasting impression on readers of all ages. As you join the characters on their cross-country escapade, you’ll be immersed in a world where friendship knows no bounds and the spirit of adventure knows no limits. Rutledge’s exquisite storytelling has garnered well-deserved accolades and recognition, making ‘West with Giraffes’ a literary gem cherished by many. So, grab your backpack and step into the pages of this remarkable novel, as we journey alongside two brave souls and their remarkable giraffe companions – a ride you won’t want to miss!

Summary (Spoiler-Free)

In ‘West with Giraffes,’ Lynda Rutledge weaves a compelling and adventurous tale that takes readers on a cross-country journey filled with heartwarming moments and unexpected encounters. Set against the backdrop of post-World War II America, the story unfolds in the 1930s, a time of great change and exploration. The narrative kicks off at the Riverview Zoo in Chicago, where the Great Depression has left its mark, leaving zookeeper Woodrow Wilson Nickel feeling disillusioned and restless.

Enter the remarkable world of giraffes – a world of grace and elegance that ignites the flicker of hope in Woodrow’s heart. When two extraordinary giraffes, the last of their kind, are offered as a gift to the president of the United States, Woodrow seizes a chance to embark on a journey unlike any other. Their destination? The sunny and exotic land of California.

But this cross-country adventure isn’t a solitary pursuit. Alongside Woodrow are the unforgettable characters – the feisty, spirited and audacious Harper, an old flame with a love for all things mechanical, and Thomas “T” Cranston, a fellow zookeeper burdened by his own demons. Together, they set out on an epic road trip, driving a truck, aptly named “Queen Mary,” transporting the towering giraffes across the vast American landscape.

As they journey westward, they encounter a kaleidoscope of experiences and unexpected challenges. From curious roadside attractions to the breathtaking beauty of the Grand Canyon, the trio learns the value of camaraderie, friendship, and the importance of embracing life’s uncertainties. Through ups and downs, laughter and tears, Woodrow, Harper, and T’s shared dream of bringing the giraffes to safety becomes a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the unbreakable bonds of friendship.

In ‘West with Giraffes,’ Rutledge skillfully intertwines history, adventure, and heart, crafting a mesmerizing tale that will leave you inspired and uplifted. So, get ready to embark on an extraordinary journey that will fill your heart with wonder and reaffirm the power of friendship. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or an adventure seeker, this book promises to be a delightful escape into a world where giraffes roam freely and human spirits soar high. Get ready to set forth on this unforgettable expedition alongside Woodrow, Harper, and T – you won’t want to miss a moment of this heartwarming and exhilarating ride.

Writing Style and Narrative

Lynda Rutledge’s writing style in ‘West with Giraffes’ is an artful blend of vivid imagery, evocative prose, and a deep understanding of human emotions. Through her eloquent storytelling, she transports readers to the bygone era of the 1930s, painting a rich and immersive landscape that comes alive with every page turned.

The author’s attention to detail is nothing short of remarkable. Rutledge masterfully describes the sights, sounds, and scents of each location, allowing readers to experience the journey alongside the characters. From the bustling city streets of Chicago to the awe-inspiring vistas of the American Southwest, every setting feels tangible, drawing readers into the heart of the adventure.

One of the most captivating aspects of Rutledge’s writing is her ability to infuse emotion into every scene. Whether it’s the joyous camaraderie among the characters or the bittersweet moments of reflection, the depth of feeling in ‘West with Giraffes’ resonates on a profound level. The emotional connections between the characters and the giraffes, as well as the challenges they face, create a rollercoaster of feelings that keep readers invested in the narrative until the very end.

The narrative structure and pacing of the book are expertly crafted, keeping readers engaged from start to finish. Rutledge seamlessly weaves between past and present, incorporating captivating flashbacks that offer insights into the characters’ backstories and motivations. This storytelling technique adds layers of depth to the narrative, enhancing our understanding of the characters’ actions and choices.

The pacing is equally commendable, striking a perfect balance between moments of excitement and introspection. The journey unfolds with a rhythm that mirrors the changing landscapes, building anticipation and ensuring that no two moments are alike. Rutledge’s skillful use of pacing allows readers to savor the beauty of the journey while maintaining an eagerness to uncover what lies ahead.

A unique storytelling technique employed by the author is the incorporation of historical details and real-life events seamlessly into the fictional narrative. Rutledge’s diligent research shines through as she intertwines the journey of the giraffes with significant events of the time, providing a historical context that adds authenticity and depth to the story. This harmonious blend of fact and fiction creates a captivating reading experience, leaving readers with a deeper appreciation for both the fictional narrative and the historical backdrop.

In conclusion, Lynda Rutledge’s writing style in ‘West with Giraffes’ is a testament to her literary prowess. Through her evocative prose, captivating narrative structure, and unique storytelling techniques, she crafts a heartfelt and unforgettable tale that transports readers on a journey of adventure, friendship, and self-discovery. If you’re seeking a book that will whisk you away to another time and leave you with a profound sense of wonder, ‘West with Giraffes’ is an absolute must-read.

Character Development

In ‘West with Giraffes,’ Lynda Rutledge delivers a masterful portrayal of character development that resonates deeply with readers. As the story unfolds, the main characters undergo remarkable transformations, enriching the narrative and contributing to the book’s overall allure.

Woodrow Wilson Nickel, the zookeeper protagonist, begins as a disillusioned and weathered individual, burdened by the weight of his past and the challenges of the present. Throughout the journey, Woodrow’s encounters with the giraffes and his companions, Harper and T, ignite a renewed sense of purpose within him. As he cares for the gentle giants and navigates the trials of the road, he undergoes a profound inner growth, shedding his past doubts and embracing the true spirit of adventure. Witnessing Woodrow’s evolution from a desolate soul to an intrepid and compassionate leader is both heartwarming and inspiring.

Harper, with her fiery spirit and mechanical expertise, adds a dynamic layer to the story. Rutledge skillfully reveals Harper’s vulnerability and strength, allowing readers to empathize with her struggles and dreams. Through her interactions with Woodrow and T, Harper’s resilience and unwavering loyalty come to the forefront, making her an unforgettable and integral part of the journey.

T Cranston’s character brings a sense of depth and introspection to ‘West with Giraffes.’ Haunted by his past, T carries emotional burdens that weigh heavily on his conscience. However, the journey offers him a chance at redemption and healing. As he connects with the giraffes and his companions, T’s emotional barriers gradually crumble, paving the way for personal growth and reconciliation. His transformation is a testament to the power of friendship and the potential for healing even the deepest wounds.

As the characters’ individual arcs intertwine, their shared journey of transporting the giraffes across America becomes more than just a physical trek; it becomes a profound and transformative experience. Through trials, triumphs, and poignant moments of connection with the giraffes, Woodrow, Harper, and T forge an unbreakable bond that drives them forward, forming the heart and soul of the narrative.

Moreover, the giraffes themselves serve as powerful symbols throughout the book, representing resilience, grace, and the beauty of the natural world. Their presence in the characters’ lives opens new vistas of understanding, and their gentle companionship brings out the best in Woodrow, Harper, and T.

In essence, ‘West with Giraffes’ is not just an adventure across the American landscape, but a profound journey of self-discovery and camaraderie. Rutledge’s adept handling of character development adds a layer of depth and relatability to the story, making readers empathize with the characters’ struggles and rejoice in their triumphs. As the characters evolve and form unbreakable bonds, readers are reminded of the enduring power of friendship and the potential for personal growth, making ‘West with Giraffes’ an enchanting and emotionally resonant tale that will leave an indelible mark on the hearts of those who embark on this unforgettable expedition.

In conclusion, the character development in ‘West with Giraffes’ is a testament to Lynda Rutledge’s storytelling prowess. The transformative journeys of Woodrow, Harper, and T not only enrich the narrative but also offer valuable insights into the human spirit. With the giraffes as their steadfast companions, these characters exemplify the beauty of resilience, friendship, and the wonders of self-discovery. Brace yourself for an emotional and awe-inspiring adventure that will tug at your heartstrings and leave you with a renewed appreciation for the boundless capacity of the human soul.

Adventure and Friendship

In ‘West with Giraffes,’ Lynda Rutledge masterfully crafts a narrative that entwines the spirit of adventure with the profound beauty of friendship. From the very first page, readers are swept into a whirlwind of escapades, heart-stopping moments, and the exhilarating allure of the open road.

The adventure elements of the book are nothing short of captivating. Rutledge skillfully transports readers to the 1930s, an era marked by a spirit of exploration and discovery. As Woodrow, Harper, and T embark on their cross-country journey with the towering giraffes in tow, readers are taken on an expedition that transcends mere geography. Every mile traveled offers a glimpse into the diverse and awe-inspiring landscapes of America, from the bustling cities to the untouched wilderness. The vivid descriptions breathe life into the scenery, making readers feel as though they are right beside the characters, savoring the adventure firsthand.

The trio’s encounters on the road are as varied as the landscapes they traverse. From quirky roadside attractions to unexpected challenges, each experience adds depth to the adventure, keeping readers on the edge of their seats. Rutledge’s immersive storytelling makes the readers’ hearts race with excitement, creating a palpable sense of wonder and anticipation throughout the journey.

However, the true heart of ‘West with Giraffes’ lies in its portrayal of friendship and the bonds forged between the characters. Woodrow, Harper, and T come from different walks of life, each carrying their own burdens and dreams. Yet, their shared mission to transport the giraffes unites them in a bond that grows stronger with every obstacle they overcome together.

The authenticity of their friendship shines through the pages, as they lean on each other for support and find solace in the company of one another during the long, challenging journey. Rutledge showcases the power of camaraderie, illustrating how friends can lift each other’s spirits, provide strength during tough times, and bring joy to even the most mundane moments.

The giraffes, too, become an integral part of this unbreakable bond. Their gentle presence serves as a reminder of the beauty of nature and the interconnectedness of all living beings. The genuine affection that Woodrow, Harper, and T develop for the giraffes echoes the profound love and care they have for one another, reinforcing the theme of friendship throughout the narrative.

On a personal level, the themes of adventure and friendship in ‘West with Giraffes’ resonate deeply with readers. The allure of adventure and exploration is universal, appealing to the innate desire for discovery and new experiences. Rutledge’s vivid portrayal of the journey inspires readers to embrace the unknown, step out of their comfort zones, and embark on their own personal quests, no matter how big or small.

Additionally, the portrayal of friendship strikes an emotional chord with readers. As they witness the characters’ growth and the unyielding support they offer each other, readers are reminded of the value of true friendship in their own lives. The book becomes a mirror reflecting the significance of authentic connections, encouraging readers to cherish and nurture the friendships that enrich their own journeys.

In conclusion, ‘West with Giraffes’ is a breathtaking testament to the magic of adventure and the enduring power of friendship. Through Rutledge’s eloquent prose and heartfelt storytelling, readers are transported to a world of captivating landscapes and unbreakable bonds. The themes of adventure and friendship resonate on a personal level, igniting the wanderlust within and reminding us of the beauty and strength that come from genuine connections. So, fasten your seatbelts and prepare for an adventure of a lifetime, where friendship and discovery await at every turn, in the enchanting pages of ‘West with Giraffes.’

Areas for Improvement

While ‘West with Giraffes’ is a heartwarming and captivating novel, it is essential to acknowledge that no book is without its imperfections. Despite its many strengths, there are a few areas where some readers may find room for improvement.

One aspect that some readers may have noted is the pacing of the story. While the narrative maintains a steady rhythm for the most part, there are moments where the pacing may feel slightly uneven. Certain sections of the book may seem to move slowly, while others may rush through significant events. This variation in pacing could potentially affect the overall reading experience for some readers who prefer a more consistent flow.

Additionally, some readers might have desired deeper exploration of certain characters and their backstories. While the main characters, Woodrow, Harper, and T, undergo significant development, there may be supporting characters who leave readers curious for more insight into their motivations and arcs. Further exploration of these characters could have added additional layers to the narrative and enhanced the emotional impact of the story.

Another aspect worth mentioning is the ending, which may be perceived as somewhat predictable by some readers. While the journey itself is full of unexpected twists and turns, the resolution of certain storylines might not offer the level of surprise or novelty that some readers seek in a narrative.

It’s also worth noting that ‘West with Giraffes’ delves into various themes and historical events, which may lead to occasional shifts in focus. Some readers might prefer a more tightly woven narrative, where all themes converge seamlessly, while others may appreciate the diverse tapestry of stories interwoven within the book.

While these points present areas where some readers may find room for improvement, it is crucial to remember that literary preferences vary from person to person. What one reader perceives as a drawback, another may interpret as a unique characteristic or a minor aspect in comparison to the book’s overall merit.

In conclusion, ‘West with Giraffes’ is an enchanting and heartfelt tale that offers an unforgettable journey of adventure and friendship. However, like any book, it may have aspects that some readers perceive as opportunities for improvement. The pacing, character depth, predictability, and thematic complexity are areas that could have been further explored. Nevertheless, these considerations should not overshadow the book’s captivating storytelling, resonating themes, and the emotional connection forged between the characters. Each reader’s experience is subjective, and while acknowledging areas of growth, ‘West with Giraffes’ remains a remarkable and endearing novel that is sure to touch the hearts of those who embark on this extraordinary adventure.


In conclusion, ‘West with Giraffes’ by Lynda Rutledge is a captivating and heartwarming novel that effortlessly weaves together adventure, friendship, and the beauty of the natural world. Rutledge’s vivid imagery and evocative prose transport readers on a journey of a lifetime, with the cross-country expedition offering an enchanting glimpse into post-World War II America.

The strength of this novel lies in its well-developed characters, particularly the profound transformation of Woodrow, Harper, and T, as they embark on a mission that transcends mere geography. The unbreakable bonds of friendship formed between the characters and the giraffes are touching and resonant, emphasizing the enduring power of authentic connections.

While the book may have a few areas where some readers seek room for improvement, such as pacing and character depth, these minor aspects do not overshadow its unique qualities. Rutledge’s seamless blend of historical events with the fictional narrative adds an enriching layer of authenticity to the story.

For those who yearn for an enchanting escape into a world of adventure, camaraderie, and self-discovery, ‘West with Giraffes’ is an absolute must-read. Whether you are a history enthusiast or simply seeking a heartwarming tale, this novel promises to leave an indelible mark on your heart and soul. Embrace the journey of a lifetime, and join Woodrow, Harper, and T as they traverse the breathtaking landscapes of America with their towering and gentle companions. Delve into the pages of ‘West with Giraffes,’ where the spirit of adventure knows no bounds and the power of friendship reigns supreme.

About the Author

Lynda Rutledge is a gifted and imaginative author, renowned for her ability to craft heartwarming and captivating narratives. With a passion for storytelling that knows no bounds, Rutledge has earned her place among the literary world’s finest talents. Hailing from a background of diverse experiences and a deep appreciation for history, she brings a unique blend of authenticity and creativity to her works. Lynda Rutledge’s writing transcends the boundaries of time, taking readers on unforgettable journeys through her words. Her literary prowess shines brightly in ‘West with Giraffes,’ where she masterfully weaves adventure, friendship, and the wonders of the natural world into a mesmerizing tapestry. Rutledge’s ability to create characters that resonate deeply with readers and transport them to new worlds ensures that her books remain etched in the hearts of audiences for generations to come.

I warmly invite all fellow book enthusiasts to engage with our blog by leaving their valuable comments and sharing their own thoughts on ‘West with Giraffes.’ Your perspectives, reflections, and personal experiences with the book are incredibly valuable to us and the broader reading community. Let’s embark on a journey of discussion and discovery, delving into the intricacies of this heartwarming tale together. Whether you loved the vivid landscapes, connected deeply with the characters’ journeys, or found inspiration in the themes of friendship and adventure, we want to hear from you! Don’t hesitate to share your insights and emotions, as every perspective enriches the tapestry of our literary conversation.

Moreover, if ‘West with Giraffes’ touched your heart, consider spreading the magic beyond our blog. Share this review on your favorite social media platforms, recommend it to your book-loving friends, and ignite the curiosity of fellow readers. Together, we can create a ripple effect, introducing others to the captivating world of Woodrow, Harper, T, and their endearing giraffe companions. Your support in sharing this review will not only enrich the reading experiences of others but also contribute to the joy of discovery and connection among fellow bookworms. So, let’s join hands in celebrating the wonder of literature and invite others to join our vibrant community of book enthusiasts!” – Your Book Corner

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