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Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of A Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  4,660 ratings  ·  922 reviews
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
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published October 13th 2015 by William Morrow (first published September 24th 2015)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Diane Barnes
Feb 24, 2016 rated it liked it
This was a solid 3 star read for me. A humorous, witty story, with a lot of very funny scenes. It was probably my fault, but I did not realize from the beginning that it was intended as a farce, with everything overly dramatised for the sake of the story. I had thought that it was mostly rooted in fact, when it was actually based on the tall tales that Hickam's parents had told to their children growing up. They did have an alligator that they took back to Florida, but the scenes that took place ...more
May 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: For the Journey Proud who Accept the Gift of Kismet
Recommended to Lawyer by: Tom Mathews
Carrying Albert Home: Lessons From the Road

Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of A Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator by Homer Hickam was chosen by Tom Mathews as his Moderator's Choice for On the Southern Literary Trail for May, 2016. Many thanks to Tom and especially to Homer Hickam who participated in a Question and Answer Discussion with the Group about his novel.


Let us be lovers,
We'll marry our fortunes together.
I've got some real estate
Here in my bag.

Paul Simon, 1968

Carole (Carole's Random Life)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

I really enjoyed this book! This isn't the kind of book that I pick up often but when I do I almost always enjoy myself. The title and description sparked my interest. This book sounded like it would be a quirky yet interesting story. By the end of the story, I had fallen in love with Albert and kind of wanted a pet alligator of my own (not really....I'll just stick with my 2 dogs and my cat for now).

This story was filled with lots of exciti
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
May 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016

Vilken otroligt härlig bok! Från första sidan fastnade jag för denna bok och det var inte alls svårt att klämma den på två dagar. Berättelsen är besynnerlig, otroligt mysig men även lite sorglig. Jag måste erkänna att slutet var svårt att läsa för att jag verkligen hade blivit fäst vid Albert, Elsie, Homer och tuppen.

Kändes berättelsen lite väl fantastisk ibland? Javisst, men det är charmen med boken. Jag tyckte om att läsa om denna 1000 mila resa pga av att man både fick den n
Apr 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
According to Homer Hickam Jr., he had some very interesting parents. In this book his mother Elsie is recalling stories from the past to her son , in particular a journey made by the young married couple who during the depression years left the coalfields of Alabama on an eventful journey to Orlando Florida. Seems Elsie had been given an Alligator by the name of Albert as a wedding gift from an old beau none other than Buddy Epsen to the dismay of her husband Homer Sr. who cares neither for the ...more
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful story this was to read. Just trying to describe what it is about would not do it justice. In terms of books i have read previously, the only one's I can compare it to is the mad cap adventure style of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared and the haunting beauty of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Written about the authors parents and Albert the alligator, a wedding present from a famous dancer and actor, Buddy Ebsen, Carrying Albert Home te
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Feb 21, 2016 rated it liked it
DNF At page 106, I regretted buying a hardback copy of this, although most everyone else found it charming. For me, it was a cross between a Forrest Gump-ish couple and those John Bodette commercials for Motel 6: "we'll leave the light on for you."

This series of tall tales about a cross-country journey that the couple made in the 1930s was just so terribly far fetched and written at such a basic level that while I intended to read it along with my 13-year-old, I may give this to a fourth or fif
Tom Mathews
The captain, a huge man with ears like an African elephant, looked up and frowned. “What the devil is it, son?”
“It’s my wife, Captain.”
“Elsie? What’s wrong with Elsie?”
“She wants me to take her and her alligator to Orlando.”
The Captain sat back and considered Homer. “Does this have anything to do with you running around your yard without your pants?”
“Yes sir, it does.”
The Captain cocked his head. “Okay son, I’m always up for a good story and I sense this might be a good one.”

And so begins a true
Angie Rhodes
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
Wow!! Just feeling sad, now I have finished reading about Albert,
This was one of the most uplifting , fun books I have read for a long long time,
It reminds me of the adventure stories, I read as a child,, Loved it,, Worth buying? YES! Worth reading ad then re reading?YES!! A book for everyone, no matter what sex or age? YES!!
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody and anybody

“It’s hard to fight a dream,” Homer answered. “And maybe harder to lose one.”

Two words that don't seem natural to go together, alligator and pet. At least, not in my world! Yet, this somewhat true story (according to Homer Hickam) is his quirky and humourous family legend in which his mother Elsie returns her pet alligator Albert to its home ground in Florida. Tagging along are his father Homer and a rooster, which shall remain nameless throughout the story. They encounter a few nota
Briar's Reviews
Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam is a seriously funny book that will take you on one wild adventure.

Books like these are always my favourites - they tell fun and inviting stories and welcome you into someone else's world. I also identify as an 'old soul' so I get a real kick out of reading books about the past. This book, Carrying Albert Home, is about Homer's parents taking a pet alligator back to Florida. Yes, you read that right, they are transporting an alligator. Along the way they get
Book Concierge
Subtitle: The Somewhat True Story of a Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator

Hickam grew up in Coalwood, West Virginia, where his father, Homer Sr, was foreman at the coal mine. Over the years his mother, Elsie, and father occasionally made reference to a trip they had taken during the Depression, when they were a young married couple but didn’t yet have children; it was to “carry Albert home,” Albert being his mother’s pet alligator. This book recounts some of those stories of the trip and their adve
Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, arc, netgalley
Many thanks to HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Who couldn't love a book about a coal miner, his want-to-be-anything-other-than-a-coal-miner's-wife wife, her pet alligator, and a gratuitous rooster? Whimsical beginning with the Table of Contents, Carrying Albert Home is the story of how Elsie and Homer's marriage is likely saved by a journey that turned out to be, well, kismet. Traveling through four states to return
Apr 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Suzy by: Southern Literary Trail group read
4 1/2 stars

In the very best storytelling tradition -where with each telling the story becomes more fabulous, dramatic and fun- Homer Hickam tells the "somewhat true story" of how his parents Elsie and Homer carried a pet alligator from Coalwood, W. Virginia to Orlando Florida during the depression. I think I was especially delighted by Hickam's story because at first I kept wondering what the heck I was reading! Fable? Fairy tale? Allegory? Odyssey? But I was having so much fun with Elsie and Ho
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Part Forrest Gump, tall tales, and history, this is the pieced together story of the author's parents and a wedding present from Buddy Ebsen, Albert. Told with humor and heart, the author puts together the epic family lore of the day Albert tore off Homer's pants while he sat doing his business and Homer's ultimatum to Elsie, "Him or Me." After days of deliberation Elsie makes her choice.

Crossing four state lines, stories are told of bank robbers, moonshine and Prohibition, Hooverville, the Gre
Beth Mcintyre
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I won't give it justice, I'm sure...I keep thinking the one-word description is "adorable." Elsie has an alligator that Buddy Ebsen gave her as a wedding present. When Albert gets a little too big for his britches (actually, Elsie's husband Homer's) then Homer says "me or the alligator." They embark on a journey to Florida and have adventures along the way. It is written from their son's point of view, as told to him in bits and pieces by his parents. Is it all absolutely true? Maybe, maybe not. ...more
Jennifer Hughes
Sep 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
As a fan of both the movie and book Rocket Boys, when I heard about this upcoming novel I had high hopes. The comparison in its description to Big Fish piqued my interest since that's one of my favorite books--a poignant story about a father's tales that grow taller and taller through memory, and a son's wish to know who his father truly is. It seemed there could be some similarities to "Albert," and I was really looking forward to reading it.

Unfortunately, while "Albert" had some of the same qu
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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 tel
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
So what do you get when you have a newly married couple, an alligator, a chicken and a road get this book. This was so unreal and quirky. And I loved that the author John Steinbeck was written into this story. This book was very creative. The quirky characters went from one unreal scene to the next. It was kind of amusing. It did drag a bit in the first half but overall, this was a fun read.

This was written by Homer Hickam, who also wrote his memoir, Rocket Boys which was made into t
Thing Two
Loved, loved, loved this quirky, funny book. It's a love story, a travel tale, a family tall-tale set in the 1930s, with a very Forrest Gump quality. Makes me want to buy an alligator. Sweet, sweet story! ...more
Oct 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, adventure, family
4.5-star read

Elsie Lavender Hickam received a rather unusual wedding gift from her previous fiance Buddy Ebsen, a baby alligator. Mrs. Hickam adored that alligator and lovingly raised it in the coalfields of West Virginia. When the alligator scared her husband out of the house without his pants, Elsie had to choose between her husband and the alligator. What ensues is the hilarious tale of Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of a Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator by Homer Hickam.

Suze Lavender
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Homer is a miner who’s married to Elsie, who is the woman for him. She doesn’t like his profession and wants a more exciting life. She used to have all that with a man called Buddy. He’s the one who sent them an alligator as a wedding present. The alligator’s name is Albert and Elsie’s very fond of him, but Albert can’t stay with them. He needs to be taken back to Orlando as that will be a more suitable place for him to live. Carrying Albert home means going on a road trip. Homer and Elsie are ...more
Sharon Chance
Oct 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm going to go out on a limb here and proclaim two things!

1. I am pretty positive that "Carrying Albert Home" is The Best Book I have had the pleasure of reading this year. It will be my unequivocal number one book of 2015!

and ...

2. I declare that Homer Hickman is one of the best writers of our times. His way with words grab you by the collar and pulls you into his delightful world of fun and mayhem and you are all the better for it at the end of the ride. I rank him right up there with fellow
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Carrying Albert Home is an endearing tale of love, hopes and dreams, desire for adventure, and challenges along the way.

It is funny, quirky, slightly unbelievable yet at the same time surprisingly convincing, and not forgetting, it also has a cute pet alligator called Albert, and a random rooster whose presence on the journey is not entirely understood. What's not to love about this book?

If you enjoyed the film Big Fish, like I did, then this is a must read. I watched it many years ago, but this
Diane Yannick
Nov 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the craziest book ever and I just loved it. It requires a suspension of disbelief and a willingness to embrace the genre of --a somewhat true story. Based on his parents experiences, Hickman embellishes with gusto. Albert is an alligator who goes cross country with Elsie and Homer. (Man, this review is not going to do this book justice.) There are bank robberies, Tarzan movies, hurricanes, visits with Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck. Parts are laugh out loud funny, parts are utterly ...more
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this novel which, supposedly, was based on or inspired by true events in the author's parents' lives. It's a rollicking road tale which spans the states from West Virginia south to Florida, and is set during the Depression, complete with bootleggers, strikers, and camps of homeless families. Even John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway make appearances. A fun read. ...more
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2015
Every now and again a book comes my way that I just want to shove at everyone and scream “READ THIS! READ IT NOW!” Carrying Albert Home is one of those books. It arrived on my doorstep (how it fit through the mail slot on my door is beyond me!) and I popped it on my shelf to look at later. Promptly forgot it for a week (hey, I’ve got a lot on) and picked it up at random one sunny day and got sucked in immediately. I even put aside all of my podcasts to read this one, and that says a lot!

By far,
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Described as Big Fish meets The Notebook, this was one of the strangest, funniest, endearing reads I’ve read. This is the “mostly true,” story of Hickam’s own parents who went on a wild road trip with an alligator.

I told you it is unlike anything I’ve ever read.

Elsie isn’t sure that being a coalminer’s wife is all that it is cracked up to be and she longs for a different kind of life. After a whirlwind romance though, she finds herself married and the proud owner of an alligator that was gifted
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, fiction
Elsie is a reluctant coal miner's wife. She isn't happy about living in dust-covered West Virginia with her simple and quiet husband, Homer. She often daydreams about what her life could have been if only Buddy Ebsen hadn't dumped her and moved to New York to get, well, famous. She fantasizes about this non-existent relationship a lot, much to the chagrin of her husband. And, unfortunately, this past non-relationship can never be put to rest...because of Albert, Elsie's pet alligator (you heard ...more
Raven Haired Girl
Oct 12, 2015 added it
Shelves: 2015
Absolutely delightful story, the characters along with their adventures and of course the depth of the premise made this story undeniably charming.

Elsie – at first she comes as harsh but as the story progresses you realize there is much more to this woman than meets the eye. Homer – his patience and love for Elsie is both endearing and frustrating. He’s a man full of integrity and often a victim of circumstance. I found myself cheering this couple on, hoping love would smooth out their rough pat
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Homer Hickam (also known as Homer H. Hickam, Jr.) is the author of many best-sellers including his latest, Carrying Albert Home. An eclectic writer, he wrote the "Coalwood Series," which includes the # 1 New York Times best-selling memoir Rocket Boys, the popular World War II-era "Josh Thurlow" series, the juvenile sci-fi "Crater" series, the adult thriller The Dinosaur Hunter, the romantic Red He ...more

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