Historical fiction

West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge

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After reading the blurb of this book, it is hard not to be curious about the content. I picked it up a while ago but only got around to reading it last week. It starts off a little slow, but once they are on the road, it was hard to set it aside before seeing them all the way through.
Our lead protagonist, Woody, is in a care home and feels like he is running out of time. This has him set words to paper before he forgets like he does the day-to-day.
The actual story unravels in 1938 when two giraffes survive a hurricane (one of them just barely) and then were transported by road, all the way to the other coast. This is an arduous task now, but in 1938 with two massive, practically delicate animals- it would have been something else entirely! Woody is almost eighteen, an orphan and nursing a profound secret in his heart. He becomes fascinated by what he sees in the giraffes’ eyes as well as the idea of the west coast. Woody starts to follow them on their journey by hook or crook. How their paths converge and how he learns to trust that part of him that values animals (in contrast to what he has been told all his life) made for some fascinating reading. There were a few nail-biting situations, but since we know that the giraffes reached their destination from history, this fictional tale of their journey did not have me concerned for just their overall safety. We have a few more crucial characters, each bringing something to the tale. We do get a glimpse at the present intermittently, although those scenes are usually sad.
As anyone with the mildest curiosity would do, I did google the trip. There are fewer things available than I would have liked, which made the fact that the author included a few newspaper clippings very helpful-especially to get a feel for the time, place and possible urgency.
The writing style was descriptive and emotional in parts while continuing to provide information about the road trip. I had not heard about the ‘dust’ before. I lived in the central US for a little more than a year, so imagining the situation in the 30s was harsh.
I recommend it to readers of the historical fiction genre or anyone (like me) who finds the blurb attractive!
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

Mallika really enjoyed it too and reviewed it here

2 thoughts on “West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge”

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