The long-awaited prequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Rocket Boys the basis of the movie October Sky follows Elsie Lavender and Homer Hickam, Sr., on a journey from the misty coalfields of West Virginia to the sunny beach towns of Florida.
When high school sweethearts Homer and Elsie are married, Elsie s ex-boyfriend movie actor Buddy Ebsen sends her a peculiar wedding gift, an alligator named Albert whom she adores.
Eventually, a jealous Homer gives Elsie an ultimatum: Me or the alligator After giving it some thought, Elsie concludes there is only one thing to do: carry Albert home.
Based on a family legend, Carrying Albert Home is a road story, a portrait of Depression-era America, a rollicking adventure, and an unusual tale of that marvelous emotion we inadequately call love."
1 Reader Reviews
Funny and moving, this is a very enjoyable read.
“Elsie had always felt her life was like a jigsaw puzzle with no picture on the box to show her how the puzzle pieces should fit together”
Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of A Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator is a book with a title that is certainly lengthy-yet-succinct and quite intriguing. This memoir by American author, Homer H. Hickam Jr. is his account of his parents, Elsie and Homer’s epic adventure with an alligator named Albert (and a rooster), in which (Hickam’s website tells us) everything is true, except the bits that are made up. Which is no doubt why the cover says “a novel”. Some say it could be considered a prequel to his Coalwood series.
An embarrassing incident with Albert leads Homer to issue Elsie with an ultimatum, "Me…or…that…alligator”. The decision is made to carry Albert home from Coalwood, West Virginia to Orlando, Florida. Albert travels in a quilt-lined bathtub on the back seat of Homer’s Buick. For no apparent reason, a russet-coloured rooster with green tail feathers decides, at the last minute, to join them. Homer takes two weeks’ leave from the mine, expecting to be back in Coalwood by then. But the trip does not go according to Homer’s plan.
When they finally reach Florida, they encounter Elsie’s former beau, singer and dancer, Buddy Ebsen, the man who was responsible for sending them the hatchling Albert as a wedding gift. Buddy apologises if Albert caused them any trouble. Homer, by this stage is quite angry: “Oh, no trouble at all. Your marvellous gift merely made us abandon our house, get caught up in a bank robbery, run illegal moonshine through North Carolina, get cast adrift in the Atlantic Ocean, act in a jungle movie, and get all but blown away in the Keys! No, sir. No trouble at all”. Their adventure has also included joining a bunch of radicals, flying a plane and meeting John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway.
Underlying the crazy adventure with all its quirky characters is the love story between Elsie and Homer, which hits a few rough patches before a relatively happy ending. But the real star of the story is, of course, Albert (although the rooster does have a certain appeal). Funny and moving, this is a very enjoyable read.