When Elsie gives her husband Homer the ultimatum “it’s me or the alligator”, the couple find themselves on a journey from West Virginia to Florida in a 1925 Buick convertible with an alligator and a rooster on the back seat. With America in the midst of the Great Depression, they meet bootleggers, radicals, John Steinbeck and a whole cast of characters.

She loved Albert more than just about anything in the whole world. She knelt and scratched his belly while he waved his paws in delight and grinned his most toothsome grin.

I loved Carrying Albert Home, a charming tale based on the tall tales the author’s parents told him about that time they took their pet alligator to Florida. It’s a testament to oral storytelling on a family scale, where the events are embellished but hold a grain of truth. Who knows if Albert really was a team mascot or starred in a film…

Albert is the star of the show. Baby Albert was sent to Elsie as a wedding gift from Buddy Ebson, the man she never stopped loving. As he grows, Albert’s a constant reminder to Homer that his wife’s heart is elsewhere. But even Homer can’t resist Albert’s charm as the journey unravels. I’m not convinced an alligator would act so dog-like but I still loved him. He’s on the younger, and smaller, side so it’s more believable that he wouldn’t be trying to eat people, despite what Homer may think in the beginning.

Elsie was found.
But that wasn’t what mattered.
What mattered was that he had looked.

Elsie never wanted to be stuck in a coal mining town, married to a coal miner. She yearns for a more exciting life, with a more exciting man. Yet their journey south isn’t exactly boring and maybe the couple can meet halfway; Homer can grow beyond the coal mines and Elsie can realise a good, kind man is better than the exciting, dangerous type, any day. The fact that the story is introduced by their son (the author), means we know it must work out some how.

Who knows how much is true? It seems it really doesn’t matter at all…

Carrying Albert Home is published by HarperCollins and will be available in hardback and ebook editions from 19th November 2015. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.