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Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of a Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator    by Homer Hickam order for
Carrying Albert Home
by Homer Hickam
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Those who read Rocket Boys or saw the film October Sky, which was the adaption of the memoir, will want to get a copy of Homer Hickam's latest book.

An enchanting and totally offbeat love story of sorts between a couple from the West Virginia coalfields and a pet alligator who was far from his natural home in the Florida Everglades, this tale purports to be based, at least partially, on truth. The trick is discerning where and how fact and fiction mix, but once the story takes hold that won't be a major concern.

Built around an auto journey that will take Albert, the gator, back to an environment where he might be happier (although he seems pretty happy wherever he is) Homer and Elsie, the author's parents, embark on an adventurous trip that is filled with surprises.

The trip unfolds during the Great Depression but the resourceful couple manages to find the financial resources to make their odyssey a reality and, thanks to their ability to think on their feet and react to the maladies that they encounter along the way, the lengthy trip is successful.

As much a test of their relationship as an excursion to get Albert to Florida where he can be with his own kind, the couple will encounter both John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway as well as become involved in a labor dispute, play roles in a Tarzan movie shoot, enjoy a short stint in pro baseball, survive a hurricane, and become entangled in some shady events that involve a memorable car chase.

To make this humorous odyssey even more bizarre, a rooster joins in early on, bonds with Albert, and makes it even a more unusual event. You'll also notice, from the book's title, Albert was Elsie's pet. He was given to her by Buddy Ebsen and the actor plays a cameo at the story's conclusion.

Based on stories his parents told him, Hickam shaped the narrative into this memorable story that you'll find hard to set down once you've read a few chapters. How much of this actually happened remains to be seen, but Carrying Albert Home is definitely an entertaining book.

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