Thursday, October 22, 2015

TLC BOOK TOURS and REVIEW: Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of a Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator by Homer Hickman


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.

Hardcover, 432 pages
Published October 13th 2015 by William Morrow (first published September 28th 2015)
ISBN 0062325892 (ISBN13: 9780062325891) 

About the Author

Homer Hickam (also known as Homer H. Hickam Jr.) is the bestselling and award-winning author of many books, including the #1New 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. 

Check out the author's website
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My Thoughts
“You’re the first people I ever met who was going to Florida. What’s it like?”

“Hot and full of bugs so I’ve read.”

“That explains why I never met anybody going there…”
Being a resident of South Florida, I can appreciate this passage!

Homer can never seem to compare to either of his wife's first loves: Buddy Ebsen or her pet alligator Albert. After Homer gives his wife an ultimatum of him or Albert, his wife agrees to travel to Florida to release Albert into the wild.

Nearly this entire story takes place during their journey away from home. As the back cover implies, it's a quirky story reminiscent of something like Big Fish. Fantastical and outrageous, there is a blurred line between reality and fantasy in this book. How much is truth and how much fiction? We don't really know. We know there was a Homer Hickman, his wife Elsie and her alligator Albert. We know they made a trip to Florida. Beyond that, we don't know a whole lot. The author explains...
Carrying Albert Home is a family epic, which means it's a blend of fact and fiction, evolved from stories told by my parents, both of whom were West Virginians and knew how to make their tales tall as the hills that surrounded them on all sides.
This story is rich in colorful characters (some of them you'll recognize) and events, spanning the distance between Coalwood, West Virginia and Key West, Florida, with Albert in the backseat and a rooster sitting up front (the rooster is a character all his own). Homer is a good man, and has more patience with his wife Elsie than he would ever have with anyone else. And she is not an easy woman to get along with. Homer seems to do nothing right when it comes to Elsie. She is constantly displeased with anything he says or does. Homer is a bit clueless on how to make Elsie happy, even though that is what he desires more than anything. And no matter how hurtful she can be, he keeps trying.

I would like to thank TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. Check out the website for the full tour schedule:

Tuesday, October 6th: bookchickdi
Thursday, October 8th: Man of La Book
Friday, October 9th: Books and Bindings
Monday, October 12th: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, October 13th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Tuesday, October 13th: Books on the Table
Wednesday, October 14th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Thursday, October 15th: The many thoughts of a reader
Monday, October 19th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Tuesday, October 20th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, October 21st: Lit and Life
Thursday, October 22nd: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Friday, October 23rd: 5 Minutes For Books

My final word: Clever, curious, and colorful, this story keeps you guessing. You never really know how much truth lies in it, but you get the feeling that there may have been a fair bit of truth, dressed up to make it a little fancier and bigger than life. Elsie can be a bit off-putting much of the time, but then she redeems herself with some tender moment, kind gesture, or humorous quip. And I found myself continually rooting for Homer in his quest to make her happy. Just a man, his wife, her alligator and a rooster on a road trip. What more could you ask for? I can almost hear Albert happily expressing yeah-yeah-yeah.

Buy Now:
Barnes and Noble

My Rating:

The Cerebral Girl is a forty-something blogger just digging her way out from under a mountain of books in the deep south of Florida.

I received a copy of this book to review through TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ from the final release.  

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

What more could you ask for indeed?! This sounds like a charming and poignant story and I can't wait to read it.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!