Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of a Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator (Paperback)
November 2015 Indie Next List
“This thoroughly delightful story chronicles Hickam's parents' road trip from their coal-mining town in West Virginia to Orlando, Florida, to return Elsie Hickam's pet alligator, Albert, to a home in a more suitable climate. Along the way, the travelers -- Homer Sr., Elsie, Albert, and an elusive rooster -- encounter famous American authors, movie stars, and minor league baseball teams and become embroiled in union strikes and bank robberies. It's hard to say what is true and what isn't, but either way, Carrying Albert Home is a very enjoyable journey!”
— Lori-Jo Scott (M), Island Bookstore, Kitty Hawk, NC
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 New York Times bestselling 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 1,000-mile adventure. Told with the warmth and down-home charm that made Rocket Boys a beloved bestseller, Homer Hickam’s rollicking tale is ultimately a testament to that strange and marvelous emotion we inadequately call love.
About the Author
Homer Hickam (also known as Homer H. Hickam, Jr.) is the bestselling and award-winning author of many books, including the #1 New York Times memoir Rocket Boys, which was adapted into the popular film October Sky. A writer since grade school, he is also a Vietnam veteran, a former coal miner, a scuba instructor, an avid amateur paleontologist, and a retired engineer. He lives in Alabama and the Virgin Islands.
“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.”
“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.”
— Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers
“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