West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge

Our USO book club has finally started back up!  We had to take a brief hiatus and I was definitely missing it, so it was quite a happy mail that we had our first book of the year. 

If you're curious, our book club is comprised of active military, military spouses, and military retirees, and is put on by our local USO (Colorado and Wyoming area).  We meet four Tuesdays in a row on Zoom with each meeting covering about 1/3 of the book.  Our first choice of 2022?  West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge.

West with Giraffes tells the story of Woodrow Wilson Nickel, at present over 100 years old and living alone in a nursing home.  As he realizes he is likely dying soon, he recounts the most significant event of his life--his time driving across country with two giraffes from East Coast to the San Diego Zoo.  A child of the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma, Woody is set on a new life after the passing of his parents.  Luck allows him to see the infamous giraffes and even more luck allows him to take on the role of the driver for these creatures.  As he crosses the country with two giraffes and one old man zookeeper, Woody's story unfolds.

This was a little different than our usual picks for sure.  We had all heard of it, yet none of us had picked it up until the book was selected.  Most of our picks have leaned towards women's historical fiction, so a Dust Bowl story, giraffes, and male characters was a departure for sure.  One of our main consensuses was that the journey was interesting, but the ending was abrupt.  Another 50-100 pages to bring Woody et al. full circle would have been very much welcomed.