2023 Texas Great Read
Adult Selection

West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge



Cover of the book "West with Giraffes" by Lynda Rutledge, showing the back of a man wearing over all walking towards a large map of the western United States

West with Giraffes by Linda Rutledge 

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 12-day road trip in a custom truck to deliver southern California’s first giraffes to the San Diego Zoo. Behind the wheel is young Dust Bowl rowdy Woodrow from the Texas panhandle. Inspired by true events, this 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.




Photograph of author Lynda Rutledge

About the Author

Lynda Rutledge, a fifth generation Texan, has been a freelance journalist for 25 years, writing feature and travel articles for major newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and books for well-known organizations such as the San Diego Zoo. But her first love has always been fiction. She holds an MFA in creative writing, a BA and MA in American literature, and has won numerous awards and residencies for her writing. Her first novel Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale won the 2013 Novel of the Year from the Writers’ League of Texas and was made into a French film starring Catherine Deneuve. While writing the history of the San Diego Zoo, she uncovered the remarkable untold story that inspired West with Giraffes in a pile of yellowed 1938 news clippings published as they traveled across the USA. She and her husband and resident dog live outside Austin. For more information about Lynda, please visit www.lyndarutledge.com.





Page last modified: August 4, 2023