Sunday, 24 July 2016

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickman

A journey of a thousand miles. With an alligator on the back seat. And John Steinbeck as a passenger.
This is a tale where everything is true,except the bits that are made up.
In 1930s America, the Great Depression made everyone’s horizons smaller, and Elsie Lavender found herself back where she began, in the coalfields of West Virginia.
She had just one memento of her halcyon days – a baby alligator named Albert.
Then one day, her husband’s stoical patience snapped and Elsie had to choose between Homer and Albert.
She decided that there was only one thing to do: they would carry Albert home to Florida.
And so began their odyssey – a journey like no other, where Elsie, Homer and Albert encountered everything from movie stars and revolutionaries to Ernest Hemingway and hurricanes in their struggle to find love, redemption,
and a place to call home.
From the bestselling author of Rocket Boys–the basis of the movie October Sky–comes a long-awaited prequel. Big Fish meets The Notebook in this novel about a man, a woman, and their alligator.

If I hadn't been sent this book to review I don't think I would ever have picked it from a shelf in a bookstore. I decided to read it as sometimes it's good to read outside your comfort zone.
I'm so glad I did because I loved this story. It reminded me of Forest Gump.
The author tells us it's the story of his parents not long after they were married and their long drive from Coalfields Virginia to Orlando in Florida. The purpose of this journey is to deliver Elsie's  pet alligator back to where he was born,the swamps in Florida. Homer  just can't abide the alligator Albert anymore and says he will leave unless a home is found for Albert.
Elsie loves her pet so much especially as it was gifted to her as a wedding present from her first love Buddy who left her to peruse an acting career.
During this road trip with Albert in the car in a bathtub they get into all sorts of trouble which in many cases had me laughing out loud. They meet John Steinbeck, robbers,killers, Ernest Hemmingway and countless more people and situations.
Elsie is not sure of her love for Homer she knows she hates living in Coalfields, such a grey and dirty place. Will she return to their home after they have found a place for Albert?
As they set off they are joined by a rooster, no one knows why he is there he just is.
Homer is a nice man. Not an exciting man but a straight down the line man who would do anything for Elsie. Abert the alligator is a character too. He takes a bite at those who need it and give his ya ya ya happy noise when he's happy. Elsie is a quirky lady with her own mind,she won't be told what to do by a man,any man and this may cause her trouble especially when the man has a gun.

Homer junior was intending to write this book as a memoir but was then persuaded to make it a fiction story. I don't know what part is true and what is fiction but I think I can guess. What I do know is...if you're fed up with reading the same type of books again and again then this one is a welcome relief. This book had me laughing, worrying, excited and at the very end I shed tears...over an alligator. I never thought I would ever write that in a sentence.
 Carrying Albert Home can be found here
and I have also seen it on supermarket shelves.

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