Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Carrying Albert Home Review


19th November 2015| Hardback| £12.99

Eight hundred miles. In a car.
With an alligator in the back seat.
‘Until my mother told me about Albert, I never knew she and my father had undertaken an adventurous and dangerous journey to carry him home. I didn’t know how they came to be married or what shaped them to become the people I knew. I also didn’t know that my mother carried in her heart an unquenchable love for a man who became a famous Hollywood actor or that my father met that man after battling a mighty hurricane, not only in the tropics, but in his soul. The story of Albert taught me these and many other things, not only about my parents but the life they gave me to live, and the lives we all live even when we don’t understand why.’ Homer Hickam 2015

This is the somewhat true story of a woman, a husband and her alligator.
Elsie Lavender and Homer Hickam were classmates at school in the West Virginia coalfields, graduating just as the Great Depression began. When Homer asked for her hand, Elsie instead headed to Orlando where she sparked up a relationship with dancing actor Buddy Ebsen. But when Buddy headed for New York, Elsie’s dreams of a life with him were crushed and eventually she found herself back in the coalfields, married to Homer.
Unfulfilled as a miner’s wife, Elsie was reminded of her carefree time with Buddy daily because of his unusual wedding gift; an alligator named Albert, whom she raised in the only bathroom in the house. After three years of marriage, Homer issued Elsie with an ultimatum – ‘it’s either me or the alligator.’ Thus, there was only one thing to do; carry Albert home. To Orlando. A road trip of nearly a thousand miles.

Carrying Albert Home is the funny, yet sometimes tragic tale of a young couple and a special alligator on a crazy adventure. Told with a warmth and charm, Homer Hickam’s rollicking tale is ultimately a testament to that strange and marvellous emotion we inadequately call love. It captures the common nostalgia for missed opportunities and transforms it into a brave adventure, where anything is possible.

About the author:
Homer Hickam is probably known best for his no. 1 New York Times bestselling memoir Rocket Boys which was adapted into the ever-popular move October Sky. Mr. Hickam has been a coal miner, Vietnam combat veteran, scuba instructor, NASA engineer and now a best-selling author.

Claire's Review 4 of 5 Stars

This was such an intriguing read, I felt sucked into the story of Homer, Elsie and of course Albert, from the very beginning. Carrying Albert Home, is the story of the authors parents. His mother Elsie, is given a baby alligator as a wedding present, and eventually Homer has enough and gives her an ultimatum of the Albert or him, and reluctantly Elsie chooses Homer, so they embark on the journey to Orlando, Florida to take Albert home, and finding lots of adventures on the way.

I really enjoyed this book, it made me laugh and although I found Elsie a hard character to like, I still found myself hoping she would see the error of her ways and her treatment towards Homer.

I also loved seeing the photographs in the back of the book, which was a lovely touch, to see who you were actually reading about. A great read and definately one I would recommend to others.

Hello and welcome to Booky Ramblings of a Neurotic Mom

Was there anything particular that inspired you to start your journey of being an author?

H3: When I was a child in the West Virginia coalfields, I was terribly near-sighted, a fact not discovered until I was in the 4th grade. This turned out to be a wonderful thing for my future career as a writer since I couldn't see well enough to play outside with the other kids so I contented myself with reading anything and everything that resided on my parents' bookshelves. They were both avid readers so I had a lot to choose from and I did. Our teacher in the third grade gave us an assignment to write a short story and I suppose I was so immersed in literature by then that the story I wrote astonished her, enough that she told me someday I would make my living as a writer. I instantly began to write and sell my stories for a penny to anyone who would buy them. For a third grader, I was pretty rich! I got away from writing for a while, even becoming an engineer of all things, but while I was a soldier in Vietnam, I realized my true passion in life was writing. Although my day job remained in engineering for a while, I began to write and sell freelance articles. In 1989 came my first breakthrough book, Torpedo Junction that, by the way, is still in print and recently optioned to become a motion picture.

What would you say is the hardest part of writing/publishing a book for you?

H3: Honestly, it's all a joy. I don't find anything difficult about it. Well, I'll take that back. It's really hard work after a new book comes out to make sure as many people read it as possible. That means getting out there and selling it. I'm actually pretty good at that but it means I can't write for a little while and that's bothersome. However, I do get to write for blogs like this one and that's kind of nice!

If you could only read four books for the rest of your life, what would they be?

H3: (1) Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain) (2) Cannery Row (John Steinbeck) (3) The Call of the Wild (Jack London) (4) Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurtry)

Do you and your main character share any personality traits?

H3: Ha! Since Homer and Elsie in Carrying Albert Home are my parents, I would say so! Actually, I'm much more like Elsie than Homer. She was vain, headstrong, determined, and talented. Well, maybe I just got that third characteristic but that's been enough to keep me going!

If you could live in any book what book would it be?

H3: Probably Treasure Island. I have this adventurous streak, you see, and I love the ocean and islands. Or maybe Lonesome Dove. I could be a Texas Ranger or maybe a cowboy. Or any of Jack London's books although I don't much like the cold. Now, see, you've got me started. There are so many books I love!

Where do your ideas for your books come from? Dreams? Music?

H3: I don't know.. I wish I knew. In some cases, I'd stop them before they became ideas! But I think they come from everywhere but probably deep within my subconscious. I like to say every time I write a book, especially if it includes something about my parents, I get a million dollars worth of psychotherapy I don't even know I need!

Any advice for aspiring authors?

H3: To write, you have to read, read, read, and never stop reading. You can't be a good writer if you don't read. Without realizing it, if you read, especially if you read authors that make you want to turn the page, you are being taught to write.