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Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of a Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator Paperback – July 5, 2016
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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“An intentionally improbable, bizarre trip through Southern Americana that is ...an amalgam of fact and an almost Walter Mitty-esque degree of fancy, evoking (because of the deadly yet indispensable animal) Life of Pi and (because of the trope of life as journey) Huckleberry Finn.” (BookPage)
“An entertaining memoir-like fantasy adventure/family tribute/love story.” (Florida Times-Union)
“Must-read… A funny yet tragic tale of a husband and wife’s car journey across the US with Albert the alligator in tow. Yes, really.” (Marie Claire (UK))
“A lifetime of adventures – meeting John Steinbeck, witnessing industrial rebellions, joining the coast guard and experiencing a hurricane – are condensed into one epic journey. It’s utterly charming, exploring the ups and downs of love and marriage, and celebrating eccentricity.” (The Scotsman)
“Great memoirs must balance the universal and the particular...In his debut, Hickam...walks the line beautifully...No matter how jaded readers have become by the onslaught of memoirs, none will want to miss the fantastic voyage of BCMA, Auk and Coalwood.” (Publishers Weekly on Rocket Boys)
“Recalling a lost era, the transition between small-town life and the dawning of the new technological age, he brings his American hometown to life with vivid images, appealing characters and considerable literary magic.” (Publishers Weekly on The Coalwood Way)
“Homer Hickam weaves together family lore, historical accuracies, comedy and a touch of sadness... It is those blurred lines between truth, the unreliability of memories and the way stories become stretched and exaggerated over time that give this novel its charm.” (Associated Press)
“In all of its romance, humor, swashbuckling action, heartwarming affection, and tear-jerking sadness, CARRYING ALBERT HOME, in a word, is fantastic.” (Florida Book Review)
From the Back Cover
Elsie Lavender and Homer Hickam Sr.—the future parents of Homer Hickam Jr.—were high school sweethearts during the Great Depression. 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 of West Virginia, married to Homer.
Elsie was reminded of those carefree Florida days by Buddy’s unusual wedding gift: an alligator named Albert who lived in the only bathroom in their little house. Eventually Homer gave Elsie an ultimatum: “Me or the alligator!” After giving it some thought, Elsie concluded there was only one thing to do—carry Albert home.
Top customer reviews
There are lots of laughs, and lots of love on this ride. Homer loves Elsie and would do just about anything for her, he believes, and Elsie certainly will test that. Elsie loves Albert and would do just about anything for him, not exactly the same but if you’re Elsie then being logical isn’t really something she’s all that concerned with.
It is one escapade after another and you’re along for the ride as Homer drives Elsie, Albert and a rooster to their destinations appointed by kismet.
I have read, and enjoyed, all of Homer Hickam's books; beginning with "Rocket Boys", then reading the previously written "Torpedo Junction", and eagerly devouring each of his subsequent writings. Ok, full disclosure here - I have met and spent time with the author and find him as engaging and delightful in person as he is on the page (not always the case with authors).
Now, let's get back to the review of "Albert". Having read all of his books, I must admit that I have come to expect certain things from Mr. Hickam's writing. All of my expectations were exceeded, and more. In reading "Albert", I found myself amused by the characters and situations in which they find themselves. I also discovered that this book is so much more than a "Tale about a Man, a Woman and Her Alligator" as the subtitle suggests. It is a rollicking adventure, full of unlikely but mistly believable events that will keep you up to the wee hours turning pages. It is also a love story - but, I'm not entirely sure whose love. The author leaves that conclusion up to the reader.
Mostly, though, I found myself surprised. The book, in its entirety, is a seminal work in the genre of "family legend." When you read this book, which you must, be ready for an emotional roller coaster ride, with all of the thrills and twists and turns that suggests.
This story is so well told, revealing the affection the writer has for the characters, who are in fact, his real parents. You can’t help but smile as you read the Hickam’s wild adventures. Their road trip takes us through a time warp of an America that is far different from today’s culture.
As in Forest Gump fashion, the Hickam’s encounter great writers along the way and at that time not knowing they would also give birth to a great writer.
Albert is the strangest alligator I have ever heard of and I grew up near New Orleans. I remember as a young girl, my father brought home a small one and it was scary, mean, and wanted to bite me. Elsie must have been an alligator whisperer. I am still not going out to get a pet alligator.
I highly recommend this charming book!