Carrying Albert Home

Homer Hickam, the author of Rocket Boys which was made into the movie October Sky, tells the story of his parents’ early marriage with humorous and fanciful embellishments in the novel Carrying Albert Home. Albert is an alligator. Hickam’s mother Elsie visited her uncle in Florida after graduating from high school, and she met Buddy Ebsen (who later became a famous actor) when his family had a dance studio in Orlando. Ebsen soon left for New York, and Elsie went back to West Virginia to marry her high school sweetheart, Homer Hickam Sr. Ebsen sent a wedding gift of a tiny baby alligator which Elsie cherished. But Albert the alligator soon got too big for life in Coalwood, West Virginia so Homer and Elsie drove to Florida to carry him home. The description of their adventures on the road trip is entertaining—they get involved in a labor dispute, with moonshiners, with the filming of a movie, and live through a hurricane. But the novel is also about the characters of the parents. Elsie was dissatisfied and pining for a more glamorous life while Homer Sr. knew in his heart that he was meant to be a coalminer. The novel is supplemented with photographs of Hickam’s parents. A fun book to read.


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