If your summer plans don’t include a road trip with giraffes while being chased by a murderous traveling circus and falling in love with the wrong person, what are you even doing? This book does an amazing job of pulling the reader out of our humdrum lives (or in Woody’s case, pulling him from a hurricane), and putting us on the road with nothing but open sky above and miles of adventure ahead. It’s 1938—the age of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Nuclear fission is being discovered in Berlin, and Hitler is banging about Europe, but none of this matters because two rescued African giraffes need to get to the San Diego Zoo before one of them dies.
Of course, the novel is more than the giraffes (who steal every scene), and it’s more than Woody’s story arc which moves from tortured, thieving, Dust Bowl refugee to gentle, generous, self-sacrificing hero. The massive heads of these wild creatures nuzzle Woody’s face, dripping snobbers (my word) on his cheeks and blowing hot breaths down his neck as Woody gazes at the night sky, and we catch a glimpse of INFINITY. The scent of Africa and the ocean rises from the giraffe’s fur, the unharnessed power of the beasts quivers along their muscles, and the reader can feel the UNIVERSE between the lines. The mark of a great writer is the ability to write a story about their characters while also writing a story about life. About joy, sorrow, hope. About the human experience. Rutledge is a great writer.
Read West with Giraffes to take the road trip you didn’t have time for this summer. Read it to learn a bit more about this era without actually having to learn (which is why I love historical fiction, and I’m a teacher, I know, I know, shhh). And read it if you’ve ever looked into the eyes of a wild animal—at the park, at the zoo—and felt CREATION gazing back.
Also, check out this amazing selfie of me and my new hubby with a wild giraffe on our honeymoon in Africa!
Use this link to find this book in your local indie bookstore (our book-buying choices matter 🙂