Carrying Albert Home — Book Review

y648-1The story of how my parents carried Albert home was a bit more than their fanciful tales of youthful adventure. Put all together, it was their witness and testimony to what is heaven’s greatest and perhaps only true gift, that strange and marvelous emotion we inadequately call love.

Homer Hickam (the younger)

Homer Hickam grew up hearing tall tales about his mother’s alligator, Albert. Elsie Hickam “loved Albert more than just about anything in the whole world”, but Elsie’s new husband, Homer, finally issues an ultimatum: “‘Me or that alligator.'” After thinking it over, Elsie reluctantly agrees to give up her beloved pet, returning him to his native Florida. The young couple’s road trip from West Virginia to Florida involves more adventures than most people have in a lifetime.

Elsie and Homer befriend John Steinbeck while visiting a vagrant camp; they have dinner with Ernest Hemingway in Key West just before the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935; they become paid actors when they stumble upon a movie set; and they have run-ins with a variety of lowlifes and criminals, from bank robbers to bootleggers to smugglers.  Albert himself plays baseball, flies in a plane, and plays a mysterious part in saving Homer’s life.

At its heart, Carrying Albert Home is a love story. In an interview, Hickam says, “It’s a book for people who are in love, want to be loved, know somebody who has been in love, or is interested in love even as a concept.” Read more