West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge

West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge

West with Giraffes Summary by Lynda Rutledge

West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge is a historical fiction novel that tells the story of 105-year-old Woodrow Wilson Nickel, who drives two giraffes cross-country in 1938 America. 

The novel is a bildungsroman, in which the historical context of 1938 permeates the narrator’s character development. The story is told through the first-person narrative point-of-view of the protagonist, and it is an adventure story and an homage to animal rights. 

The novel is about hope, resilience, love, and the importance of memory and storytelling. The book has been translated into 20 different languages and has gained global recognition. 

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This article gives you a comprehensive summary of this novel

Title West with Giraffes
Author Lynda Rutledge 
Year of Publication February 1, 2021
File Format Kindle, Audiobook, Hardcover, Paperback 
Language English 
Number of Pages 346 pages 
Customer Reviews 4.7 out of 5 stars 
Best Sellers Rank #653 in Kindle Store, #6 in Historical Literary Fiction, #11 in Friendship Fiction (Kindle Store), #16 in Coming of Age Fiction (Kindle Store)

Information about the book “West with Giraffes” written by Lynda Rutledge

West with Giraffes Summary by Lynda Rutledge

West with Giraffes is a novel by Lynda Rutledge, inspired by the true story of two giraffes who were transported from New York to the San Diego Zoo in 1938. The story follows Woodrow Wilson Nickel, a young man from the Dust Bowl who is hired to drive the giraffes across the country.

Woodrow is initially reluctant to take on the job, but he is soon drawn to the gentle giants. As they journey together, Woodrow learns about the giraffes’ unique personalities and develops a deep bond with them. He also begins to open up to the other people he meets along the way, including a crusty old man with a past, a young female photographer with a secret, and a variety of other colorful characters.

The journey is not without its challenges. Woodrow and the giraffes face bad weather, mechanical breakdowns, and even a few dangerous encounters. But through it all, Woodrow remains committed to his task, knowing that the giraffes are relying on him.

In the end, Woodrow and the giraffes arrive safely at the San Diego Zoo, where they are greeted by cheering crowds. Woodrow has grown and matured during the journey, and he has learned the importance of friendship, courage, and perseverance.

Click the link below to read the complete novel online

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the themes of West with Giraffes?

The novel 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. Central to this story is the promotion of animals as worthy of human devotion.

Is West with Giraffes suitable for young readers?

No, the novel contains some mature themes and language that may not be appropriate for young readers.

Are the giraffes the main focus of the story?

While the giraffes play a significant role, the novel also delves into the lives and experiences of the human characters.

Can West with Giraffes be considered a coming-of-age story?

While the novel does explore the characters’ growth and self-discovery, it primarily focuses on their extraordinary journey.


West with Giraffes is a heartwarming and inspiring story that celebrates the power of animals to change our lives. It is also a reminder of the resilience and hope of the American people during the Great Depression.

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