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May 16, 2016

Carrying Albert Home

Carrying Albert HomeCarrying Albert Home

By: Homer Hickman

A few months ago, I went on a pleasure-reading binge. I’d recently finished a course of study and was looking for books that would be relatively easy to read, and hoped they’d bring me some escape from reality and a little fun along the way.  After a few books, I lucked upon Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickman, and I truly can say that I do not remember enjoying a book in quite this way for a long time.

This story is a semi-biographical retelling of the adventures of the author’s parents, Homer and Elise, and follows the couple as they embark on a cross-country road trip during the Great Depression in order to bring Albert, Elise’s pet alligator, home to Florida. An alligator? As a pet? Yep – absolutely. Albert was given as a gift to Elsie from an old flame during her days as an almost-actress, and grew up as a household pet after Homer and Elise were married and working in Coalwood, West Virginia. Albert never liked Homer, and Homer never really cared much for Albert, but the happiness that Albert gave to Elise was almost (almost!) enough for Homer to allow him to stick around. After an incident involving Albert’s giant teeth getting far too close to Homer’s legs, the family (i.e. Homer) decided it was time for Albert to go home.

The idea of a road trip with an alligator in a bath tub is almost too much, but add in a car-friendly rooster, kooky bank robbers, a riff-raff band of enthusiastic mill workers on strike, back-road bootlegging and many more tales, and you have the delightful story of this family’s trip. While the author acknowledges that some, or much, of this tale is true (at least according to his parents), I found myself fully immersed and believing of the whimsy of the story, and hoping they were all true. Hickman designs simple, yet deep, characters who are relatable and his descriptions of Albert make him endearing and lovable. Readers will fall in love with any number of characters in this story, and will leave the book with a happy heart.

Interested in talking more about the Hickmans and their epic road trip? Join the Fiction Fans book discussion on Thursday, July 14th at the Fishers Library.

Review By:  Jessica Diehl