Homer Hickam * William Morrow * October 13, 2015 * 432 Pages
Elsie is a reluctant coal miner’s wife. She isn’t happy about living in dust-covered West Virginia with her simple and quiet husband, Homer. She often daydreams about what her life could have been if only Buddy Ebsen hadn’t dumped her and moved to New York to get, well, famous. She fantasizes about this non-existent relationship a lot, much to the chagrin of her husband. And, unfortunately, this past non-relationship can never be put to rest…because of Albert, Elsie’s pet alligator (you heard that right) given to her by Buddy as a wedding gift.
After several years and many injustices suffered because of Albert, Homer finally, finally demands that Elsie choose between him and the alligator. It’s not an easy decision for her, but, eventually, she chooses Homer. Her only condition is that Albert be returned to his rightful place in the perfect Florida swamp. So Elise and Homer embark on a fantastical two-week journey to do just that.
I loved this book. The events that unfold are so quirky and strange, yet, at the same time, Elsie and Homer are ridiculously muted. The juxtaposition of the two extremes is very entertaining. This book is like a cross between Olive Kitteridge and Big Fish. (I’m talking about the movie version of Big Fish, because I like it better. Don’t judge me.)
It could have all so easily fallen flat, but Hickam writes the story of his parents with such love and care that the craziness somehow makes sense. I wasn’t sure about this book at first, but I ended up absolutely loving it. What a gem.