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Books, Bourbon, and Beer

40+ West Michigan members. Fun group, we meet in person, generally twice for each book. First meetup is at a restaurant (weekday), where it is assumed you have started the book. We avoid spoilers. Second meeting is hosted (Saturday).

West with Giraffes: A Novel

An emotional, rousing novel inspired by the incredible true story of two giraffes who made headlines and won the hearts of Depression-era America.

"Few true friends have I known and two were giraffes..."

Woodrow Wilson Nickel, age 105, feels his life ebbing away. But when he learns giraffes are going extinct, he finds himself recalling the unforgettable experience he cannot take to his grave.

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 twelve-day road trip in a custom truck to deliver Southern California's first giraffes to the San Diego Zoo. Behind the wheel is the young Dust Bowl rowdy Woodrow. Inspired by true events, the 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.

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371 pages

Average rating: 7.78

947 RATINGS

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23 REVIEWS

Community Reviews

AnnCat
Jul 01, 2024
5/10 stars
I rated it primarily for the before/afterward and the Author's Note. :) style was basic and cliché but I absolutely cannot mark down her efforts and subject matter.
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BOONEB
May 30, 2024
10/10 stars
Loved this book.I had never heard anything about this story which is non-fiction. Fabulous story.
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Anonymous
May 28, 2024
4/10 stars
Poorly written historical fiction with two-dimensional characters and bland dialogue. Don't bother.
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Paukku
May 25, 2024
2/10 stars
Meh. Underwhelming. I found this mostly a lackluster imitation of Water For Elephants with a terribly unlikable main character, a supporting character with no well-defined characteristics, and a plot that was drive, stop to feed giraffes, have unbelievable encounter, sleep, repeat.
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Anonymous
May 19, 2024
10/10 stars
I picked this up after receiving several recommendations. I loved it! It took off a little slow, but I got to the point where I needed to know what was going to happen next.

It was such a beautiful story and I recommend that everyone read it. It was well worth it.
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