#Review - Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam @HomerHickam

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam
Harper Collins / William Morrow
Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Date Read:  October 15, 2015

Big Fish meets The Notebook in this emotionally evocative story about a man, a woman, and an alligator that is a moving tribute to love, from the author of the award-winning memoir Rocket Boys—the basis of the movie October Sky

Elsie Lavender and Homer Hickam (the father of the author) were high school classmates in the West Virginia coalfields, graduating just as the Great Depression began. When Homer asked for her hand, Elsie instead headed to Orlando where she sparked with a dancing actor named Buddy Ebsen (yes, that Buddy Ebsen). But when Buddy headed for New York, Elsie’s dreams of a life with him were crushed and eventually she found herself back in the coalfields, married to Homer.

Unfulfilled as a miner’s wife, Elsie was reminded of her carefree days with Buddy every day because of his unusual wedding gift: an alligator named Albert she raised in the only bathroom in the house. When Albert scared Homer by grabbing his pants, he gave Elsie an ultimatum: “Me or that alligator!” After giving it some thought, Elsie concluded there was only one thing to do: Carry Albert home.

Carrying Albert Home is the funny, sweet, and sometimes tragic tale of a young couple and a special alligator on a crazy 1000-mile adventure. Told with the warmth and down-home charm that made Rocket Boys/October Sky a beloved bestseller, Homer Hickam’s rollicking tale is ultimately a testament to that strange and marvelous emotion we inadequately call love.

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I really enjoyed this book!  This isn't the kind of book that I pick up often but when I do I almost always enjoy myself.  The title and description sparked my interest.  This book sounded like it would be a quirky yet interesting story.  By the end of the story, I had fallen in love with Albert and kind of wanted a pet alligator of my own (not really....I'll just stick with my 2 dogs and my cat for now). 

This story was filled with lots of exciting adventures.  Elsie and Homer's journey to carry Albert home was anything but boring.  They spent time with all kinds of interesting people including Buddy Ebsen, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and a nameless rooster.  This one trip would have given them more adventures than most people would have in a lifetime.  As preposterous as most of the events may sound, each one seems completely reasonable within the confines of this story.

I liked Homer a lot from the very beginning of the story.  He was just such a nice guy but I feared that he may be a little too nice for his own good.  It took me some time to warm up to Elsie.  She seemed a bit spoiled and seemed to be rather unkind to Homer.  During the course of their journey things do change between the pair.  They seem to really learn a lot about their own feelings and each other.  Homer even learns that he does have a soft spot for Albert after all.

I loved the fact that this is a "somewhat true" story.  Every family probably has their own compilation of stories that are told that may be based in truth but over time have developed into the somewhat true realm.  I really enjoyed the parts of the story where we see Elsie and Homer telling their children about their journey to carry Albert home.  I would hope that most people can relate to this kind of family history although I can't remember anything about alligators or movie stars in my own family's tales.

The writing in this book was well done.  The pacing kept the story moving forward even though it seemed they could have driven to Florida several times by the middle of the book.  Each event that occurred during their travels was exciting and really told a story within a story.  I found myself grinning several time during the course of reading this novel.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a quirky story with a lot of excitement.  I believe that this is the first book by Homer Hickman that I have read but I plan to check out some of his other works soon.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Harper Collins / William Morrow via Edelweiss for the purpose of providing an honest review.

About the Author

Homer Hickam (also known as Homer H. Hickam, Jr.) is probably best known for his # 1 New York Times best-selling memoir Rocket Boys which was adapted into the movie October Sky (a title he dislikes). Carrying Albert Home, his latest, is somewhat of a prequel to that work but, as he says, "somewhat not." He is also the author of the popular "Josh Thurlow" and "Crater" series. Winner of the University of Alabama's Clarence Cason Award and the Appalachian Heritage Writer's Award for his memoirs and fiction plus many other writing awards including an honorary Doctorate of Literature from Marshall University, Mr. Hickam is a Vietnam veteran and has also been a coal miner, scuba instructor, engineer, paleontologist (two T.rexes to his credit!), and now a best-selling author. It's that latter accomplishment he likes the best. For more information on Mr. Hickam and his various careers and books and cats and everything else, please go to http://www.homerhickam.com.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


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