Rocket Boys: A Memoir (aka October Sky)

Rocket Boys: A Memoir (aka October Sky)

4.3 89
by Homer Hickam, Beau Bridges, Beau Bridges

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The #1 New York Times bestselling memoir that inspired the film October Sky, Rocket Boys is a uniquely American memoir—a powerful, luminous story of coming of age at the dawn of the 1960s, of a mother's love and a father's fears, of a group of young men who dreamed of launching rockets into outer space . . . and who made those dreams come


The #1 New York Times bestselling memoir that inspired the film October Sky, Rocket Boys is a uniquely American memoir—a powerful, luminous story of coming of age at the dawn of the 1960s, of a mother's love and a father's fears, of a group of young men who dreamed of launching rockets into outer space . . . and who made those dreams come true.

With the grace of a natural storyteller, NASA engineer Homer Hickam paints a warm, vivid portrait of the harsh West Virginia mining town of his youth, evoking a time of innocence and promise, when anything was possible, even in a company town that swallowed its men alive. A story of romance and loss, of growing up and getting out, Homer Hickam's lush, lyrical memoir is a chronicle of triumph—at once exquisitely written and marvelously entertaining.

One of the most beloved bestsellers in recent years, Rocket Boys is a uniquely American memoir. A powerful, luminous story of coming of age at the end of the 1950s, it is the story of a mother's love and a father's fears, of growing up and getting out. With the grace of a natural storyteller, Homer Hickam looks back after a distinguished NASA career to tell his own true story of growing up in a dying coal town and of how, against the odds, he made his dreams of launching rockets into outer space come true.

A story of romance and loss and a keen portrait of life at an extraordinary point in American history, Rocket Boys is a chronicle of triumph.

Editorial Reviews
Mankind has looked to the heavens for inspiration since time immemorial, but Homer H. Hickam Jr. was one of the first to be inspired by a man-made object soaring above the atmosphere. It was the Russian satellite Sputnik, making its way across the West Virginia sky in 1957, that moved him to escape the gloom of his coal-mining hometown for a distinguished career at NASA. In his delightful memoir, Rocket Boys, Hickam recalls with fondness his boyhood in Coalwood, West Virginia, and the exciting promise that a life spent building rocket ships held for him.
James R. Gaines
. . .[W]hatever its flaws, it's a good bet this is the story as he told it to himself. It is a lovely one, and in the career of Homer H. Hickam Jr., who prevailed over the facts of his life to become a NASA engineer. . .that made all the difference.
The New York Times Book Review
Bruce Watson
Many a memoir has but one story to tell—the author's own. But Hickham's is the tale of a town caught between the old technology and the new....His memoir honoring both earthbound miners and their sons who gazed into space is required reading for understanding the American Dream. -- Smithsonian Magazine
Stephen Blanchard
Rocket Boys is sometimes an uncomfortable blend of fiction and faction, but the real weight of the book lies not with Homer's struggle for altitude, interesting though it is, but in his awkward love for his father and for Coalwood, with its doomed mines and railyards. -- Literary Review
This nostalgic memoir chronicles the rocket launching adventures of Homer Hickam and his friends during their teenage years in Coalwood, West Virginia, in the 1950s. Inspired by the historic Soviet Sputnik launch in 1957, Hickam and his self-proclaimed Big Creek Missile Agency decided to launch a rocket into space. Unbeknowst to them, this seemingly harmless pursuit changes a destiny bound for a life of laboring in Coalwood's bituminous coal mines. Hickam would, in fact, grow up to be a pioneering NASA engineer at the Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Hickam's plain-spoken narrative captures the wide-eyed innocence of the era and draws the reader into a world of boyhood friendships, school-girl crushes and adolescent dreams. Coalwood, an impoverished small town where a promising future consisted of issuing a young boy a mining hat upon high-school graduation, however, is a less than idyllic place for dreams. Instead it serves as a reminder of the author's youthful yearning for a brighter future. In Hickam's teenage world, characters are observed through idle talk or the occasional encounter, emotions are distant curiosities, and glimpses of life in the 1950s are only frames of reference. This is neither a famous astronaut's autobiography nor a dramatic portrayal of life in Cold War America. It's simply a true-life adventure that tickles the imagination while it evokes a more idealistic time.
— William Travis
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Great memoirs must balance the universal and the particular. Too much of the former makes it overly familiar; too much of the latter makes readers ask what the story has to do with them. In his debut, Hickam, a retired NASA engineer, walks that line beautifully. On one level, it's the story of a teenage boy who learns about dedication, responsibility, thermodynamics and girls. On the other hand, it's about a dying way of life in a coal town where the days are determined by the rhythms of the mine and the company that controls everything and everybody. Hickam's father is Coalwood, W.Va.'s mine superintendent, whose devotion to the mine is matched only by his wife's loathing for it. When Sputnik inspires "Sonny" with an interest in rockets, she sees it not as a hobby but as a way to escape the mines. After an initial, destructive try involving 12 cherry bombs, Sonny and his cronies set up the Big Creek Missile Agency (BCMA). From Auk I (top altitude, six feet), through Auk XXXI (top altitude, 31,000 feet), the boys experiment with nozzles, fins and, most of all, fuel, graduating from a basic black powder to "rocket candy" (melted potassium chlorate and sugar) to "Zincoshine" (zinc, sulfur, moonshine). But Coalwood is the real star, here. Teachers, clergy, machinists, town gossips, union, management, everyone become co-conspirators in the BCMA's explosive three-year project. Hickam admits to taking poetic license in combining characters and with the sequence of events, and if there is any flaw, it's that the people and the narrative seem a little too perfect. But no matter how jaded readers have become by the onslaught of memoirs, none will want to miss the fantastic voyage of BCMA, Auk and Coalwood.
Library Journal
Hickam recalls his distinguished NASA career, which all started when he read about Sputnik as a little boy and began designing and launching homemade rockets.
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
A story of overcoming obstacles worthy of Frank Capra. . . .Thoroughly charming. . .an eloquent evocation of a lost time and place. . .A touching memoir which makes a dark and threatening place seem as golden as the dawn of a promising new life.
-- The New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
This straightforward, unselfconscious memoir is set in Coalwood, West Virginia, where the author was 14 years old in 1957, the son of the local mine superintendent. Hickam divides his life in West Virginia into two phases—before and after the October 1957 launching of the Soviet Sputnik satellite. Hickam Sr., a straight company man, despised the Russian Communists and saw his budding scientist-son as a future mining engineer, but his son had other plans. After reading all about rockets in Life magazine, Homer Jr., a disciple of the esteemed U.S. engineer and Cape Canaveral team leader Wernher von Braun, decided to build a rocket of his own. Hickam satisfies in his characterization of his rocketeer cohorts, including the brains behind the operation, the school nerd, whose jet-black hair 'looked as if it had been plastered down with about a quart of Wildroot Cream Oil.' After several mishaps in town with their dangerous steel missile projectiles, the boys set up a rocket center on an old dump site and called it Cape Coalwood, complete with a cement launch pad and a 'blockhouse,' or building for the rocketeers' protection, made of scavenged wood and tin. The author and his friends are adept at breaking things, including his mother's rose garden fence and bathroom scale, but when they break the one-mile barrier in their launches, the entire town has to take them seriously. Hickam admits in an author's note to having used a certain license in telling his story. This seems evident in its idealization of his mother and her near-religious insistence that her son not follow her husband into the mines. A simple small-town story of larger-than-life dreams, in the vein of Rinker Buck'srecent coming-of-age adventure, Flight of Passage(1997). Heavy on '50s nostalgia, invoking song lyrics throughout and portraying the era's inhibition of sexual relations among young people.

From the Publisher
"[T]horoughly charming....Hickam builds a story of overcoming obstacles that is worthy of Frank Capra...[in its]...eloquent evocation of a lost time and place."—Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times

“A thoroughly charming memoir ... [An] eloquent evocation of a lost time and place.”—New York Times

“A stirring tale that offers something unusual these days ... a message of hope in an age of cynicism.”—San Diego Union-Tribune

“A great read ... One closes the book with an immense feeling of satisfaction.”—Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date:
Edition description:
Abridged, 4 cassettes, 4 hrs. 30 min.
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 7.12(h) x 1.12(d)

Read an Excerpt

Poppy worked in the Coalwood mine until 1943, when a runaway mine car cut off both his legs at the hip. He spent the rest of his life in a chair. My mother said that after the accident, Poppy was in continuous pain. To take his mind off it, he read nearly every book in the County Library in Welch. Mom said when she and Dad visited him, Poppy would be hurting so much he could hardly talk, and Dad would agonize over it for days afterward. Finally, a doctor prescribed paregoric, and as long as he had a continuous supply, Poppy found some peace. Dad saw that Poppy had all the paregoric he wanted. Mom said after the paregoric, Poppy never read another book.

Because he was so dedicated to the Captain and the company, I saw little of my father while I was growing up. He was always at the mine, or sleeping prior to going to the mine, or resting after getting back. In 1950, when he was thirty-eight years old, he developed cancer of the colon. At the time, he was working double shifts, leading a section deep inside the mine charged with cutting through a massive rock header. Behind the dense sandstone of the header, the Captain believed, was a vast, undiscovered coal seam. Nothing was more important to my father than to get through the header and prove the Captain right. After months of ignoring the bloody symptoms of his cancer, Dad finally passed out in the mine. His men had to carry him out. It was the Captain, not my mother, who rode with him in the ambulance to the hospital in Welch. There the doctors gave him little chance for survival. While Mom waited in the Stevens Clinic waiting room, the Captain was allowed to watch the operation. After a long pieceof his intestine was removed, Dad confounded everybody by going back to work in a month. Another month later, drenched in rock dust and sweat, his section punched through the header into the softest, blackest, purest coal anyone had ever seen. There was no celebration. Dad came home, showered and scrubbed himself clean, and went to bed for two days. Then he got up and went back to work again.

There were at least a few times the family was all together. When I was little, Saturday nights were reserved for us to journey over to the county seat of Welch, seven miles and a mountain away from Coalwood. Welch was a bustling little commercial town set down by the Tug Fork River, its tilted streets filled with throngs of miners and their families come to shop. Women went from store to store with children in their arms or hanging from their hands, while their men, often still in mine coveralls and helmets, lagged behind to talk about mining and high-school football with their fellows. While Mom and Dad visited the stores, Jim and I were deposited at the Pocahontas Theater to watch cowboy movies and adventure serials with hundreds of other miners' kids. Jim would never talk to any of the others, but I always did, finding out where the boy or girl who sat next to me was from. It always seemed exciting to me when I met somebody from exotic places like Keystone or Iaeger, mining towns on the other side of the county. By the time I had visited and then watched a serial and a double feature and then been retrieved by my parents to walk around Welch to finish up Mom's shopping, I was exhausted. I almost always fell sound asleep on the ride home in the backseat of the car. When we got back to Coalwood, Dad would lift me over his shoulder and carry me to bed. Sometimes even when I wasn't asleep I pretended to be, just to know his touch.

Shift changes in Coalwood were daily major events. Before each shift began, the miners going to work came out of their houses and headed toward the tipple. The miners coming off-shift, black with coal dirt and sweat, formed another line going in the opposite direction. Every Monday through Friday, the lines formed and met at intersections until hundreds of miners filled our streets. In their coveralls and helmets, they reminded me of newsreels I'd seen of soldiers slogging off to the front.

Like everybody else in Coalwood, I lived according to the rhythms set by the shifts. I was awakened in the morning by the tromp of feet and the clunking of lunch buckets outside as the day shift went to work, I ate supper after Dad saw the evening shift down the shaft, and I went to sleep to the ringing of a hammer on steel and the dry hiss of an arc welder at the little tipple machine shop during the hoot-owl shift. Sometimes, when we boys were still in grade school and tired of playing in the mountains, or dodgeball by the old garages, or straight base in the tiny clearing behind my house, we would pretend to be miners ourselves and join the men in their trek to the tipple. We stood apart in a knot and watched them strap on their lamps and gather their tools, and then a bell would ring, a warning to get in the cage. After they were swallowed by the earth, everything became eerily quiet. It was an unsettling moment, and we boys were always glad to get back to our games, yelling and brawling a little louder than necessary to shatter the spell cast on us by the tipple.

Coalwood was surrounded by forests and mountains dotted with caves and cliffs and gas wells and fire towers and abandoned mines just waiting to be discovered and rediscovered by me and the boys and girls I grew up with. Although our mothers forbade it, we also played around the railroad tracks. Every so often, somebody would come up with the idea of putting a penny on the track and getting it run over by the coal cars to make a big flat medal. We'd all do it then until we had used up our meager supply. Stifling our laughter, we'd hand the crushed coppers across the counter at the company store for candy. The clerk, having seen this many times over the years, usually accepted our tender without comment. They probably had a stack of flat pennies somewhere in the company-store offices, collected over the decades.

For a satisfying noise, nothing beat going up on the Coalwood School bridge and throwing pop bottles into the empty coal cars rolling in to the tipple. When the coal cars were full and stopped beneath the bridge, some of the braver boys would even leap into them, plunging waist-deep into the loose coal. I tried it once and barely escaped when the train suddenly pulled out, bound for Ohio. I wallowed through the coal and climbed down the outside ladder of the car and jumped for it, skinning my hands, knees, and elbows on the packed coal around the track. My mother took no pity on me and scrubbed the coal dirt off me with a stiff brush and Lava soap. My skin felt raw for a week.

When I wasn't outside playing, I spent hours happily reading. I loved to read, probably the result of the unique education I received from the Coalwood School teachers known as the "Great Six," a corruption of the phrase "grades one through six." For years, these same six teachers had seen through their classrooms generations of Coalwood students. Although Mr. Likens, the Coalwood School principal, controlled the junior high school with a firm hand, the Great Six held sway in the grades below. It seemed to be very important to these teachers that I read. By the second grade, I was intimately familiar with and capable of discussing in some detail Tom Sawyer and Uncle Tom's Cabin. Huckleberry Finn they saved for me until the third grade, tantalizingly holding it back as if it contained the very secrets of life. When I was finally allowed to read it, I very well knew this was no simple tale of rafting down a river but the everlasting story of America itself, with all our glory and shame.

Bookcases filled with complete sets of Tom Swift, The Bobbsey Twins, The Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew were in the grade-school hallway and available to any student for the asking. I devoured them, savoring the adventures they brought to me. When I was in the fourth grade, I started going upstairs to the junior high school library to check out the Black Stallion series. There, I also discovered Jules Verne. I fell in love with his books, filled as they were with not only great adventures but scientists and engineers who considered the acquisition of knowledge to be the greatest pursuit of mankind. When I finished all the Verne books in the library, I became the first in line for any book that arrived written by modern science-fiction writers such as Heinlein, Asimov, van Vogt, Clarke, and Bradbury. I liked them all unless they branched out into fantasy. I didn't care to read about heroes who could read minds or walk through walls or do magic. The heroes I liked had courage and knew more real stuff than those who opposed them. When the Great Six inspected my library record and found it top-heavy with adventure and science fiction, they prescribed appropriate doses of Steinbeck, Faulkner, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. It seemed as if all through grade school, I was reading two books, one for me and one for my teachers.

For all the knowledge and pleasure they gave me, the books I read in childhood did not allow me to see myself past Coalwood. Almost all the grown-up Coalwood boys I knew had either joined the military services or gone to work in the mine. I had no idea what the future held in store for me. The only thing I knew for sure was my mother did not see me going into the mine. One time after Dad tossed her his check, I heard her tell him, "Whatever you make, Homer, it isn't enough."

He replied, "It keeps a roof over your head."

She looked at the check and then folded it and put it in her apron pocket. "If you'd stop working in that hole," she said, "I'd live under a tree."

After Mr. Carter sold out, the company was renamed Olga Coal Company. Mom always called it "Miss Olga." If anybody asked her where Dad was, she'd say, "With Miss Olga." She made it sound as if it was his mistress.

Mom's family did not share her aversion to coal mining. All of her four brothers--Robert, Ken, Charlie, and Joe--were miners, and her sister, Mary, was the wife of a miner. Despite their father's hideous accident, my father's two brothers were also miners; Clarence worked in the Caretta mine across the mountain from Coalwood, and Emmett in mines around the county. Dad's sister, Bennie, married a Coalwood miner and they lived down across the creek, near the big machine shops. But the fact that all of her family, and my father's family, were miners did not impress my mother. She had her own opinion, formed perhaps by her independent nature or by her ability to see things as they really were, not as others, including herself, would wish them to be.

In the morning before she began her ritual battle against the dust, my mother could nearly always be found with a cup of coffee at the kitchen table in front of an unfinished mural of a seashore. She had been working on the painting ever since Dad took over the mine and we moved into the Captain's house. By the fall of 1957, she had painted in the sand and shells and much of the sky and a couple of seagulls. There was an indication of a palm tree going up too. It was as if she was painting herself another reality. From her seat at the table, she could reflect on her roses and bird feeders through the picture window the company carpenters had installed for her. Per her specifications, it was angled so not a hint of the mine could be seen.

I knew, even as a child, that my mother was different from just about everybody in Coalwood. When I was around three years old, we were visiting Poppy in his little house up Warriormine Hollow, and he took me on his lap. That scared me, because he didn't have a lap, just an empty wrinkled blanket where his legs should have been. I struggled in his thick arms while Mom hovered nervously nearby. "He's just like Homer," I remember toothless Poppy lisping to Mom while I squirmed. He called to my dad on the other side of the room. "Homer, he's just like you!"

Mom anxiously took me from Poppy and I clutched hard to her shoulder, my heart beating wildly from an unidentified terror. She carried me out onto the front porch, stroking my hair and hushing me. "No, you're not," she crooned just loud enough so only she and I could hear. "No, you're not."

Dad slapped open the screen door and came out on the porch as if to argue with her. Mom turned away from him and I saw his eyes, usually a bright hard blue, soften into liquid blots. I snuggled my face into her neck while Mom continued to rock and hold me, still singing her quietly insistent song: No, you're not. No, you're not. All through my growing-up years, she kept singing it, one way or the other. It was only when I was in high school and began to build my rockets that I finally understood why.

Meet the Author

Homer H. Hickam, Jr., was born and raised in Coalwood, West Virginia. The author of Torpedo Junction, a Military History Book of the Month Club selection, as well as numerous articles for such publications as Smithsonian Air and Space and American History Illustrated, he is a NASA payload training manager for the International Space Program and lives in Huntsville, Alabama.

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Rocket Boys 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 88 reviews.
CodyO7D More than 1 year ago
"Whoosh". Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam JR, is a memoir about a kid named Sonny Hickam, who builds rockets with his friends in Coalwood, West Virginia, in 1957. In the this book, Sonny's dad starts out by ignoring him because Sonny wanted to build rockets with his friends, but, Sonny builds rockets anyway. He uses scrap pieces of metal from the mine and he buys some things with his money. Sonny and his friends build rockets in his basement with different gases and things. Their first rocket fails and takes out Sonny's mother's fence. Read it to find out what else happens! I thought think that this book was was a great book. It is a great book for all audiences. Children, and adults. You should read this book because it is all about how a kid built something great, even when his dad said he could not accomplish anything. I think that this book taught me a lot about how to stick to things that I am doing. I also think that it taught me that with your friend's help, you can do anything.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rocket Boys is a very inspiring book because it’s about a boy and his friends creating rockets and Homer Jr. going behind his fathers back to do what hes dreamed of doing. Homer Jr. is different than all the other kids and that’s what makes him special.The book Rocket Boys was very inspiring because it is about this boy and his friends building rockets. They end up doing there experiment in a science fair they actually win. Then Homer Jr’s teacher is in the hospital when he gets back from Indianapolis. Homer Jr. has a hard road home. Homer Jr. and his friends made a rocket epically for her. They put her name on it and then Homer Jr.’s dad launched it for them. I thought the book was very good because it just made me want to follow my dream and he just inspired me so much. I loved reading his book and I also got to meet him. His words were very inspiring and encouraging because this book was based on a true life event. I was touched when he made a rocket for his teacher. She was also special because she encouraged Homer. I thought the book was very good because it just made me want to follow my dream and he just inspired me so much. I loved reading his book and I also got to meet him. His words were very inspiring and encouraging because this book was based on a true life event. I was touched when he made a rocket for his teacher. She was also special because she encouraged Homer. In, Conclusion the book was a marvelous book to read. I would suggest this book who likes intresting books. This book is based on a true story so I recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rocket Boys is the original title of the book that is also known as October Sky. I notice under the review of that book on the site that so many students have just seen the movie and not read the book. The clues are as follows: Scholarships. There were no scholarships in the book, only the movie. The Rocket Boys. In the movie, there are four. In the book, six. Sonny (not Homer as in the movie), Roy Lee, Quentin, Billy, Sherman, and O'Dell. Working in the mine. Sonny (Homer) did not work in the mine in the book. That was only in the film. I could go on and on. Students, read the book. It is very different and better than the movie. I swan. And if you never heard of 'I swan', then you definitely did not read the book.
ProwlGal More than 1 year ago
I read this book at my school, and this is a pretty interesting story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Rocket Boys', by Homer Hickam, Jr. a book that was both exciting and heartfelt. This book was based on a true story and as you read you feel a part of the town and a friend with the rocket boys themselves. Ther dedication and pation for learning and each other helps this book capture you and grow with the characters life experiences. The book 'Rocket Boys' takes place in a town in West Virginia called Coalwood. The town's main business is that of miners and everything in the town revolves around the mining business. The super intendent is Homer Hickam, Sr., he has a wife and two sons. One of his sons, Homer Hickam, Jr., AKA Sonny, has a passion and interest in space. He recruits he buddies to help him study and master the skills of building a rockets. They form a group called the BCMA which stands for Big Creek Missle Agency. Throughout the book they begin to ask thier assistant in learning about the structure and the dictance of the rockets. The BCMA, which includes Sonny's friends Quentin, Roy Lee, Sherman, O'Dell, and Billy try many different structures and fuel to master their rockets. Sonny's mother encourages him in his rocket endeavors as she does not want him to go into the minning business. Sonnys father's feelings were he wants Sonny to become an engineer for the mine, however he does assest them with materials later in the novel. Sonny loves his mother deeply and longs for his fathers approval. All the relationships, between friends and family make this a touching experiance. My favorite part was when the boys shot off thier first rocket, and they blew up Sonny's mom's rose garden fince. My least favorite part is when Ms. Riley becomes sick. Allthough she was one of Sonny's biggest advocates it is also sad for him when she is not there to support him as a teacher and friend throughout the science fair. Rocket boys will be a book I will remember forever and is one of my favorites. It is both touching and interesting. My feeling are it is a must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rocket Boys not only subtly hints at a changing time in Americas history but it also shows teens that you should shoot for the stars. I first read this book 5 years ago and found my self reading The Coalwood Way and Sky of stone shortly after.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's surprising how the small mining town of Coalwood, West Virginia could've developed such a brilliant author, and rocket scientist. I've bought all three of his Coalwood books (in the trilogy) and own a fourth, We are not Afraid (related to Cooalwood but not necessarily in the series). Anyway ---- these are my steps to enjoy the books the way I have. (1) Watch October Sky (the movie, 1999). (2) Compare the movie to this book, Rocket Boys as you read it. (3) Exhale a great sigh of satisfaction as you finish Rocket Boys. (4) Read the next books in order: The Coalwood Way, Sky of Stone. Or you could do this: (1) Watch October Sky. (2) Read up to Chapter 22, having read through Auks XXII-A,B,C,D (3) Read The Coalwood Way (starting with Auk XXII-E). The Coalwood Way is just a breakdown within Homer's high school years of winter 1959. (Sky of Stone takes place during Homer's summer of 1961, a year through college). (4) Finish Rocket Boys. (5) Read Sky of Stone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought the book Rocket Boys was a outstanding book. This book had much detail in everything it said. This book also played with your feelings, sometimes when reading the book I would get sad when the book got sad, and get happy when the book got happy. I feel that Homer Hickam Jr. did a great job with writng the 'Rocket Boys' and I can't wait to read 'Back to th
Guest More than 1 year ago
Homer Hickam's Rocket Boys is and will always be a great inspiration to me and to nayone else who reads his book. To be yourself, to be someone. It's all that Sonny wants and he works for it. He finds himself and through his book, I am too. Read it, you won't be disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Whether you are into space or rocketry or not, this book is page-turner, and once you get into it, you will not want to put it down. It is a story of hope, courage and determination. It shows that if you work hard enough you can accomplish anything that you set your mind too. When you reach the last page you don't want the moving true story to end. Homer Hickem is a true American hero and a very gifted story teller.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
  Rocket Boys is a truly inspiring story about Homer Hickam’s dream of working with Warner Von Braun at Cape Canaveral.  Throughout the story you start to like homer and feel his pain or his joy, Hickam really draws you into his past life.  One problem Homer encountered was his dad’s refusal of him making rockets.  Another problem, was the company not giving him materials. Third of all his brother and his football cronies were taking their anger out on Homer.  It was a very good book, I have read better but It was still a great book. I feel this book could have been better with some more action.Overall a great book that will entice many young rocket scientist “want-to-be”s. .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very interesting to me. Homer Hickam is a really good author. This book was really fun to read. He wrote it so good it felt like we were right there with him in Coalwood, West Virginia. My class watched the movie October Sky also after we read the book. This book kept my interest because it talked about Homer’s life and what he did as a teenager. He also inspired me by not giving up on what he loved to do the most— building rockets. I really like his books! He is an awesome author. His books always get my attention or get me interested. In conclusion, the book Rocket Boys is personally one of my favorite books so I rated it five stars! If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it if you what to get inspired and motivation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rocket Boys is the most-picked book for community reads across the country. It is considered a classic. Nearly every school has it on its reading lists. Notice that since it came out, it consistently gets five stars from every reader, no matter their age or interests. It is a compelling work. Once you start it, you'll find it difficult to put down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is definitely my favorite book of all time. this book has forever been engraved upon my heart, and i am glad that i have been so fortunate as to discover it after many years of searching for something to obsess over. whenever i read this book, i have great difficulty with putting it down. the end makes me cry like a BABY, and i always hate it when i finish it for the third or seventh or twelvth time around. it is just such a timelessly immortal memoir, and i'm honestly glad that i took the time to read it. it is really a beautiful book, and i will strongly challenge anyone who thinks otherwise.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book captured the harsh life of West Virginia coal mining, along with the hope of a bright future somewhere else. It also had the right amount of science to be understandable but not complicated or boring.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great book. Depicts with great detail the awesome story of Homer Hickam
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the best book I have ever read. I was upset that i finished it because i enjoyed it so much. Being in my teen years, I related with the book so much through Hickam's views. Before reading this book, i hated reading but now i enjoy it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was lucky enough to be given the time during my AP Environmental class for a week to read this novel. Rocket Boys written by Homer Hickam was a truly inspirational and touching story about a boy who defies all odds and breaks out of the stereotypes surrounding the youth of his town. Growing up in Coalwood during the late fifties, few children had the opportunity to leave unless they were recruited by a college for football, those who are not lucky enough to escape ended up working in the mine until the day they died. Understandably most kids never saw a way out, so they never attempted to find a way. Homer Hickam, also known as Sonny, had no athletic ability and thought he would spend the rest of his life working in Coalwood. Sonny’s father, Homer Hickam Sr., was the manager of the mine, meaning Sonny would end up working as his assistant rather than in the mine. Sonny’s brother Jim, was being recruited for his talent in football. Throughout his childhood Sonny was in the shadow of his brother, and in his father’s eyes had no hope. On the other hand, his mother desperately wanted him to succeed in academics and make his way to college solely based on merit and constantly pushed him to pursue a life outside of Coalwood. This memoir follows Sonny’s journey as he and his friends attempt to build a rocket after being inspired by the launching of Sputnik. The group fired 34 rockets (not all successfully), even after being banned from launching them in town by Mr. Hickam the group walked for miles everyday just to continue their work. Even as their schoolmates made fun of them and they were blamed for a forest fire the group consistently proved their community wrong and built several successful rockets and Sonny won the National Science Fair. I recommend this book to those who enjoy inspirational true stories, it was an uplifting read and you will want to go build a rocket after you finish! There were a few parts at the beginning that were slow, but once you get past the back stories it’s truly a great read.
bish_ope14 More than 1 year ago
The Rocket Boys book was an okay book. It had its interesting parts, but it just was not the type of book that I normally like to read. If you are a person that likes to read about building rockets, mechanics, and mines Rocket Boys would be a good book for you. The book had many details about how the mines looked and how they built the rockets. The boys got discouraged when many of their rockets blew up, but they did not give up. Science is not my favorite field to study, which caused me to not enjoy the book. The book had some parts that interested me. I was interested in the parts when they launched the rockets. In the end, I was surprised at all the hard work the boy put into building these rockets.In all, Rocket Boys was okay. It had some parts that I liked, and some parts that I didn't like. I suggest the book to someone who is interested in science, math, rockets, and that field of subjects.  
bagelswag More than 1 year ago
Rocket Boys is a great book by Homer Hickam. He uses fantastic detail when he describes his rockets.Ever since Sputnik was launched by the Russians, Homer Hickam and his friends get motivated to launch their own rockets into space. They spend all their free time studying the making and launching of rockets. Then they put it to the test. They find their own place to launch their rockets and call it Cape Coalwood. They got really discouraged when a bunch of their rockets exploded. His father disagreed with homer building rockets, because he wanted him to work in the mine Mr. Turner also wasn’t that crazy of the idea of Homer and his friends building and launching rockets. I enjoyed reading this book because I enjoyed learning the process of building and launching the rockets.I really enjoyed reading this book.
andrew6 More than 1 year ago
My review on the Rocket Boys. It was a really good book. ItHomer Hickam Jr. is a boy that lives in a small town. He has a dream that he is going to go into space. He and three friends are building rockets. They want to get into the science fair. If they win the county science fair.The book is GREAT. It shows that if you want someMy opinion on the book is the book is wonderful. It is good if you like science but even if you don’t it’s still a good book. It is a great book to read in class. thing bad enough then go for it. It is a good book if you like fiction. It shows to never give up. Then they go on to compete in the state if they win then they get scholarships. And homer wants to be an astronaut. makes you want to keep reading. The chapters are interesting and, inspiring. The thesis statement is it’s a wonderful book.
jordan_grisham2112 More than 1 year ago
My view on Rocket Boys is an optional review. I didn’t like the book, but most people think that the book is very inspiring.Homer Hickam Jr. is a man that grew up in a small town of Coalwood. There were him and three of his lifelong friends that made rockets and were called the “Rocket Boys”. Homer talks a lot about perseverance. They failed but yet they preserved and in the end there rockets soared through the air.I understand how Mr. Hickam persevered through his life but I don’t see what the big idea was of this book. Anybody can go make a rocket and make it go in the air. I have done this experiment before.Although I don’t like the book most people think it’s a very good book. I’ve shook hands with Mr. Hickam in Beckley West Virginia.
Shaya More than 1 year ago
Rocket Boys was an inspirational book, but slightly boring. It was about a boy named Homer Hickam who decided he did not want to go to the coal mine when he got older like everybody else. He wanted to build rockets. Homer Hickam Jr. was just a regular kid in Coalwood, West Virginia. That changed when he started to build rockets. It started when he blew up his mother’s fence, and his mother told him to build more rockets to make his Dad proud of him. Homer and his friends started to build rockets together. Their rockets went off, but not very high. They needed a scientist, so they had Quentin join them. With Quentin’s help, developed rocket candy, and their rockets started to go really high. They had lots of fun, and the rockets started to go higher and higher. They launched rockets in front of the whole town. After a while, police officers showed up at their school because their rockets “burned down a forest”. Homer impressed his crush, Dorothy Plunk, with his rockets. The Rocket Boys were thinking about entering the science fair, because they could win scholarships for college. Rocket Boys was a good book, but it didn’t have much action. It was inspirational, and taught a lesson about perseverance. Rocket Boys was a good book about perseverance, and making rockets when everyone else went to the coal mine. The only reasons I didn’t like this book were: I don’t think rockets are interesting, and I like books with more action.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In this wonderful memoir, of one person that has a dream, author Homer H. Hickam, Jr. creates the theme of dreams do come true. This is more than likely helpful in many people’s lives. However, only to my taste of books, this is not in my culling. The Rocket Boys story is about a young man that wants to build a rocket, even without the help and support from his father, he prevails. Homer has great emotion and sentimental value with this story I will assume. This will have an effect on readers because of how his father was so against him and his ideas. Equally important, is the influence the coal mine had on him. He knew coal mining wasn’t what he wanted to do. In my own opinion, this book is extremely recommended to people who like this type of book. Myself? I enjoy reading mysterious, murderous, suspension kind of books. For instance, books about history such as Escape: Children of the Holocaust or Number the Stars. In conclusion, although this book is not for me, that does not mean it is not for you. There is abundant meaning in this novel. Homer and his friends were a few of the lucky ones who had the opportunity to leave Coalwood. If you are into science or determination books this book is for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Rocket Boys is about this man and how he became a successful Astronaught. The authors purpose is that he was a young boy and that he grew up in a small town in West Virginia, and he grew up to be successful in life. His purpose is trying to persuade you. Well I think that Rocket Boys is a good book, because the story line is clean and he gets his point.Well this book is how Homer grew up with hardly nothing and only few people go to college in his time. The only people that really go to college are people that get a football scholarship, or they are extremely smart. Then he starts liking and building rockets. He keeps failing then he finally becomes successful and enters the science fair. Then later on he is asked to join NASA. He becomes very successful in life.Well it is about this young man who has an interest in building rockets. Then he is trying to build and is unsuccessful to begin with. Then he finally becomes successful because he finally finds the right combination and the rocket shoots off into the sky. Also my statement is that when reading this book you need to be at least above ten because when you are in elementary school you probably will not be interested in this book. The book Rocket Boys is more for kids twelve and up. Well in the book they use foul language. The book really reaches its purpose. The book is trying to prove that just because you don’t have a lot of money doesn’t mean you are going to be unsuccessful. The book Rocket Boys is about a boy who grows up in the small town of Coal wood and becomes a successful. Well some of the main points are when Homer decides to work in the mine. Then another part is where he makes his rocket. The book make its point and it reaches its goals.