Coalwood Way: A Memoir

Coalwood Way: A Memoir

by Homer Hickam

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Overview

Coalwood Way: A Memoir by Homer Hickam

From the #1 bestselling author of October Sky comes this rich, unforgettable tale. With the same dazzling storytelling that distinguished his first memoir, Homer Hickam takes us deeper into the soul of his West Virginia hometown at a moment when its unique way of life is buffeted by forces of time and change.

It is fall 1959. Homer “Sonny” Hickam and his fellow Rocket Boys are in their senior year at Big Creek High, and the town of Coalwood finds itself at a painful crossroads.

The strains can be felt within the Hickam home, where Homer Sr. struggles to save the mine, and his wife, Elsie, is feeling increasingly isolated from both her family and the townspeople. Sonny, despite a blossoming relationship with a local girl, finds his own mood darkened by an unexplainable sadness.

Then, with the holidays approaching, trouble at the mine and the arrival of a beautiful young outsider bring unexpected changes in both the Hickam family and the town of Coalwood ... as this luminous memoir moves toward its poignant conclusion.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440237167
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/04/2001
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 797,583
Product dimensions: 4.26(w) x 6.84(h) x 0.98(d)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About 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.

Read an Excerpt

Song of the Cape

Of all the lessons I learned when I built my rockets, the most important were not about chemistry, physics, or metallurgy, but of virtues, sins, and other true things that shape us as surely as rivers carve valleys, or rain melts mountains, or currents push apart the sea. I would learn these lessons at a time when Coalwood, the mining town where I had lived my entire life, was just beginning to fade away. Yet, as the fall of 1959 began, and the leaves on the trees in the forests that surrounded us began to explode in spectacular color, Coalwood’s men still walked with a trudging grace to and from the vast, deep mine, and its women bustled in and out of the company stores and fought the coal dust that drifted into their homes. In the dark old schools, the children learned and the teachers taught, and, in snowy white churches built on hillside cuts, the preachers preached, and God, who we had no doubt was also a West Virginian, was surely doing His work in heaven, too. At the abandoned slack dump we called Cape Coalwood, rockets still leapt into the air, and boyish voices yet echoed between ancient, worn mountains beneath a pale and watchful sky. Coalwood endured as it always had, but a wheel was turning that would change nearly everything, and no one, not even my father, would be able to stop it. When that brittle parchment autumn turned into our deepest, whitest winter, this and many other lessons would be taught. Though they were hard and sometimes cruel things to learn, they were true, and true things, as the people of Coalwood saw fit to teach me, are always filled with a shining glory.

To me, there was no better time to launch a rocket than in the fall, especially a West Virginia fall. There seemed to be a cool, dry energy in the air that filled us with a renewed sense of hope and optimism. I had always believed that our rockets were lifted as much by our dreams as by burning propellant, and as the lazy summer faded and a northerly wind swept down on us with its lively breath, anything seemed possible. It was also when the school year started and I always felt an excitement stir within me at the thought of learning new and wonderful things. Fall had other marvels, too. At the Cape, we were often treated to V-shaped flotillas of migrating Canadian geese, bound from the far north to places we had only read about or imagined. We always stopped our rocket preparations to gaze longingly at the great creatures as they winged their way high overhead, and to listen to their joyful honking that seemed to be calling us to join them. “If only we could,” Sherman said once to my comment. “Even for just a moment, to look down on our mountains and see them the same as angels.” Sherman always liked to remind us that we lived in a beautiful place and I guess we did, although sometimes it was easy to forget, especially since we’d never known anywhere else.

Once, a rare snow goose, as purely white as moonbeams, landed on the old slack dump, perhaps fooled by the reflection from the slick surface of the coal tailings. We gathered around the great strutting bird, awed by the sight of her. Then I noticed that her wing tips were as black as the faces of Coalwood miners after a shift. O’Dell said the reason for the black tips was so the geese could see each other inside a white cloud. O’Dell knew a lot about animals so I believed his explanation, but it got me off to thinking. How did the snow geese decide what colors their feathers would be? Did they all get together up north somewhere a million years ago and take a vote? It was a mystery and the snow goose made no comment. She just looked annoyed. When she tired of us gawking at her, she flapped her wings and continued her journey, and I confess I was relieved. I knew the snow goose did not belong in Coalwood. Some people, especially my mother, said neither did I.

Our first rocket of the fall was Auk XXII-E. A serious little rocket, it began its journey with a mighty spout of flame and turmoil and its shock wave rattled our wooden blockhouse as it climbed. I ran outside with the other boys, but no matter how much I strained my eyes, I couldn’t see it. All I could see were clouds that went, as far as I knew, all the way up to heaven. The seconds ticked by. We had never lost one of our rockets, but I was beginning to wonder if maybe this one was going to be our first. If it had fallen on Rocket Mountain, buried itself into the soft black West Virginia loam up there, maybe we had missed it. “Time, O’Dell,” I called nervously.

O’Dell looked at the stopwatch he’d borrowed last year from one of the coal company industrial engineers and forgotten to give back. “I think it’s still flying,” he said.

“Then where is it?” I demanded. We couldn’t lose it. Like every rocket we launched, it held answers we had to know.

“There it is!” Billy yelled as he began sprinting across the slack. I still couldn’t see anything but I ran after him anyway. He easily pulled away from me with athletic grace, his muscles like small coiled springs, his shoes sending up little puffs of black grit as he ran. How that boy could run! Nobody could keep up with Billy Rose when he had his sharp eyes locked on a rocket. I, on the other hand, tended to be a pretty slow runner. I think it was because I was so nearsighted. I was always afraid I was going to run into something.

O’Dell trotted up alongside me, putting a hand on my elbow to straighten me out. “Time looks good,” he said, and then ran on ahead, his mop of blond hair bouncing as his short legs churned. He held his stopwatch in front of him, his finger poised to click it off the moment our rocket hit the slack.

Roy Lee caught up with me next. He was in his Dugout clothes, a tight pair of draped and pegged black pants, brown loafers, a pink shirt with black piping, and hair thoroughly lacquered down into a swept-back DA. He had a date for the Saturday-night dance at the teen hangout in War and was headed that way right after the launch. “I never can see the blamed things,” he griped as he ran by me. Roy Lee’s long legs soon had him beside O’Dell, but Billy was still far ahead.

Behind me, I could hear Sherman’s uneven gait, his left leg slung in an arc at each step, his built-up shoe scuffing the slack. Polio had given his leg a twist and turned it thin as a sapling. I slowed to let him catch up and run alongside me. “O’Dell said the time looks good,” I gasped.

Sherman broke into a grin at my report. “Maybe it’s going to be a great rocket,” he said.

A “great rocket” was what Quentin, the brains of our outfit, called the rockets that did exactly what we’d designed them to do. I sincerely hoped Sherman was right. Auk XXII-E used an untried propellant. With rockets, anytime you changed one thing, a lot of other things changed, too, and it was hard to predict what all they might be. In that, I guess they were a bit like me and the rest of the boys. Even though we were all seniors in high school and thought of ourselves as being grown up, the truth was we had a way to go. I was sixteen, they were seventeen, and every day, it seemed we grew a little, usually in some unpredictable way. Sometimes, I had trouble recalling who I had been the day before, or might be tomorrow. Coach Gainer called it the “teenage boy crazies.” When I got too afflicted with it, my mom always jerked a knot in my tail and said, “Straighten up and fly right.” And so I did.

Quentin was downrange so that he could measure the altitude of our rocket using trigonometry. To do it, he had to see the rocket at peak altitude and aim at it with a device he had built out of a broomstick, a nail, a wooden ruler, and a plastic protractor. He called his invention a theodolite. But clouds had defeated him today, the rocket disappearing through the heavy layer that hung overhead. We would have to depend on O’Dell’s stopwatch.

“Whoa! Stop!” Billy cried as we ran up to him. He had his arms outstretched to hold us back. I could hear the rocket whistling as it came in, and then, a hundred yards ahead, there was a big metallic retort and a plume of slack. The Auk had struck nosefirst. “Come on!” Billy yelled, and we ran on.

“Thirty-one seconds,” O’Dell reported as we reached the rocket. I did a quick mental calculation. I had designed Auk XXII-E to reach an altitude of 6,000 feet. It had reached, according to the formula we used, less than 4,000 feet. That was a disappointment. The Big Creek Missile Agency (or BCMA, as we liked to call it) had been in business for nearly two years, ever since the sight of the Russian Sputnik flying through the starry sky over Coalwood had first inspired us to join the space race. We’d started off slow, our rockets mostly blowing up, but after a while we had gotten the hang of it. We had already sent rockets higher than a mile using our old rocket candy propellant. The new propellant we were using should have easily gotten us past the mile mark. Something had gone seriously wrong with this little rocket, and I itched to find out what it was.

The smoking Auk was too hot to touch, so I gave it a quick eyeball once-over. The casement, which is what we called the body of the rocket, was made from a three- foot-long, one-and-a-quarter-inch-diameter length of seamless steel tubing. Steel tubing of that size and make was incredibly strong, yet it was now slightly bent. That wasn’t unexpected, since it was flying at over three hundred miles per hour when it had hit the hard slack. The wooden nose cone that had capped it had been reduced to splinters. One of the four fins welded to the casement had broken off. The machinists in the coal company machine shop would be interested in the damage. They had become dedicated rocket builders, sneaking in the work between jobs sent down by the mine. My father, the mine superintendent, had tried for months to stop them but had finally given up. “Bill,” Dad had said to their supervisor, “they’re your problem. Just remind your boys who pays their wages.” The machinists heard Dad’s reminder but it didn’t make much of an impression on them. Building rockets, after all, was a lot more fun than working on mine equipment.

I wanted most of all to look inside the nozzle, the working end of the rocket. Our new propellant, which we called “zincoshine,” consisted of zinc dust, sulfur, and the purest alcohol John Eye Blevins could produce from his still up Snakeroot Hollow. The nozzle and the propellant were the keys to our success. Unless both worked according to our designs, our rockets might fly but they were not going to be “great.”

Table of Contents

Reading Group Guide

This Reading Group Guide to Homer Hickam's The Coalwood Way is designed to stimulate discussion and enhance the reader's appreciation of this remarkable book.

1. As you read this memoir, did you begin to feel as if you knew the people involved? Did you like them? Do you think you’d have been happy to live in Coalwood in the late 1950s? If you had, what position in it would you have wanted? Coal miner? Foreman? Teacher? Housewife? Preacher? Doctor? Rocket Boy or Girl? Football Star? An outsider like Dreama?

2. Was this memoir similar in its construction with others that you have read? What do you think of the memoir genre? Do you think it might be hard to write a memoir that is interesting to readers?

3. How would you describe this book? Would you call it a man’s book or a woman’s book? Is it just a story of a boy with a dream or the story of a small mining town? Or is it something grander and deeper?

4. How would you describe Sonny’s parents? Do you think Homer (Senior) and Elsie love each other? How do they display their love? Why do they fight?

5. Compare and contrast the hopes and dreams and attitudes of Dreama and Ginger.

6. Why did Elsie think the Christmas Pageant was so important to her and to Coalwood? Why did she initially give up on it and decide to go to Myrtle Beach? Why did she change her mind? Why did Sonny not want to help her on the Pageant? Why did he change his mind?

7. Is this a universal story? Could it be set in other times or is it specific to Coalwood and West Virginia in the late ‘50s?

8. This story is also about the rewards and costs of nonconformity. Who conforms, who doesn’t and what are the consequences of their actions? Is that a problem today and can this story help those who tend to go against the expected norms? How was Quentin a nonconformist? How was Dreama different? Why did Elsie love Quentin so much but seemed to reject Dreama? Would you consider Ginger a non-conformist?

9. When you began to read about it, why did you think Sonny felt strangely sad? Did the real reason for it surprise you? Do you think allowing Quentin to psychoanalyze Sonny would have been a good idea? Why do you think Sonny didn’t think so? Do you think Sonny would be diagnosed as clinically depressed these days?

10. Why do you think Dreama stayed with Cuke? Was Cuke all bad? Why did Coalwood accept Cuke but not Dreama? Why did Dreama want to be a Coalwood girl? Did her encounter with “Santa Claus” Clowers change your opinion of her? Why did Roy Lee seem to have such a problem about Dreama? Did Dreama have a destiny that she couldn’t escape?

11. Why do you think Sonny wrote the Pageant script the way he did? Why did he choose the three “Kings” of Coalwood to be who they were? Do you think it was wrong for Coalwood to pretend it was where the Christ-child was born?

12. Do you think Ginger and Sonny were really a “cute couple?” Do you think they should have worked harder to be together?

Foreword

1. As you read this memoir, did you begin to feel as if you knew the people involved? Did you like them? Do you think you’d have been happy to live in Coalwood in the late 1950s? If you had, what position in it would you have wanted? Coal miner? Foreman? Teacher? Housewife? Preacher? Doctor? Rocket Boy or Girl? Football Star? An outsider like Dreama?

2. Was this memoir similar in its construction with others that you have read? What do you think of the memoir genre? Do you think it might be hard to write a memoir that is interesting to readers?

3. How would you describe this book? Would you call it a man’s book or a woman’s book? Is it just a story of a boy with a dream or the story of a small mining town? Or is it something grander and deeper?

4. How would you describe Sonny’s parents? Do you think Homer (Senior) and Elsie love each other? How do they display their love? Why do they fight?

5. Compare and contrast the hopes and dreams and attitudes of Dreama and Ginger.

6. Why did Elsie think the Christmas Pageant was so important to her and to Coalwood? Why did she initially give up on it and decide to go to Myrtle Beach? Why did she change her mind? Why did Sonny not want to help her on the Pageant? Why did he change his mind?

7. Is this a universal story? Could it be set in other times or is it specific to Coalwood and West Virginia in the late ‘50s?

8. This story is also about the rewards and costs of nonconformity. Who conforms, who doesn’t and what are the consequences of their actions? Is that a problem today and can this story help those who tend to go against the expected norms? How was Quentina nonconformist? How was Dreama different? Why did Elsie love Quentin so much but seemed to reject Dreama? Would you consider Ginger a non-conformist?

9. When you began to read about it, why did you think Sonny felt strangely sad? Did the real reason for it surprise you? Do you think allowing Quentin to psychoanalyze Sonny would have been a good idea? Why do you think Sonny didn’t think so? Do you think Sonny would be diagnosed as clinically depressed these days?

10. Why do you think Dreama stayed with Cuke? Was Cuke all bad? Why did Coalwood accept Cuke but not Dreama? Why did Dreama want to be a Coalwood girl? Did her encounter with “Santa Claus” Clowers change your opinion of her? Why did Roy Lee seem to have such a problem about Dreama? Did Dreama have a destiny that she couldn’t escape?

11. Why do you think Sonny wrote the Pageant script the way he did? Why did he choose the three “Kings” of Coalwood to be who they were? Do you think it was wrong for Coalwood to pretend it was where the Christ-child was born?

12. Do you think Ginger and Sonny were really a “cute couple?” Do you think they should have worked harder to be together?

Customer Reviews

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Coalwood Way 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Cavin Farris More than 1 year ago
i loved the rocket boys, coalwood way, and sky of stone by homer
that_one_dude More than 1 year ago
The Coalwood Way By Homer Hickman This book is a memoir of Homer Hickman's life in Coalwood West Virginia. Coalwood is a mining town where you either mine for your live or you get lucky as a teenager and leave on a scholarship for football; but Homer has other ideas in mind. Him and his friends (The Rocket Boys) start building rockets and their hopes for college. This book tells about Homer's tragedies and his greatest moments in Coalwood. I thought this book is great for any member of the family. This memoir is full of sadness, comedy, and happiness. The ending of the book will leave you feeling full and satisfied. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read or is a West Virginian
Guest More than 1 year ago
Im only half way through the book and I just can't put it down. After seeing the honorary movie, October Sky I just knew that I had to read the book. It was awesome and true mix of heart and desire. And if you loved October Sky, you'll definetly love The Coalwood Way... Its absolutely one of the best follow-up books that i have ever read...i cant wait until I'm done and can begin reading Sky of Stone...
Guest More than 1 year ago
AWSOME BOOK, COMBINES CHILDHOOD DREAMS WITH FAMILY DRAMA!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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redsfan19 More than 1 year ago
"The Coalwood Way" is a "sequel" to "Rocket Boys" and "October Sky", but it is unusual. The story takes place in the during the time period of the original books, but, being a memoir, it focuses on different things. Almost all the characters are the same in both stories, including the Rocket Boys, Homer and Elsie Hickam, Jake Mosby, and Miss Riley. However, some characters are less significant, such as Dorothy Plunk, and a few new characters are introduced, such as Dreama Jenkins and Ginger Dantzler. The main difference between the two stories is that while "Rocket Boys" and "October Sky" focus on rockets and the science fair, "The Coalwood Way" is mostly about problems in Coalwood, WV. Although a great book for both teens and adults, "The Coalwood Way" is more fun to read if you have already read either "Rocket Boys" or "October Sky".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is something about Mr. Hickam's writing that draws you in immediately. It seems that each and every word that he writes is meaningful not just as a word in a sentence, but in the overall context of the novel. It is almost like poetry, but a kind of no-frills, down-to-earth poetry. But it is not really the words that you recognize when you read the novel. It is more the way he tells you the story, the patient, completely trusting way that you learn about him. He writes this book for the whole world to see, and you get the feeling that he bares his soul and trusts you completely. It is this trusting ability that he imparts that is so compelling about his works because although he is a great writer and shaper of phrases, it is ultimately his voice, even more than his message, which will keep you focused in the novel. Moreover, he has a gift of being able to impart whatever feelings he has at the moment onto the page, and in doing so, puts you into his world. This novel has been called an equal of Rocket Boys, but I think that in some ways, this novel is even better. It focuses more on the people of the town instead of showing Mr. Hickam's childhood. I also find this novel more honest and realistic of the his life. There are parts in Rocket Boys where you don't get the full story and which are covered in this book. These parts may not be the wonderful, life-always-turns-out-great kind of stories, but that's life. I think that the idea that life's not always fair, but you do what you can is conveyed even more clearly in this novel than in Rocket Boys. Having said all this though, I must admit that I like Rocket Boys more. It is not that this book is written more poorly (no, on the contrary, this book feels more mature), but simply because I enjoyed the details of Mr. Hickams early forays into the world of rocketry in that earlier book. However, The Coalwood Way is most certainly my second favorite book and I would recommend everyone to read this fascinating memoir.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is something about Mr. Hickam's writing that draws you in immediately. It seems that each and every word that he writes is meaningful not just as a word in a sentence, but in the overall context of the novel. It is almost like poetry, but a kind of no-frills, down-to-earth poetry. But it is not really the words that you recognize when you read the novel. It is more the way he tells you the story, the patient, completely trusting way that you learn about him. He writes this book for the whole world to see, and you get the feeling that he bares his soul and trusts you completely. It is this trusting ability that he imparts that is so compelling about his works because although he is a great writer and shaper of phrases, it is ultimately his voice, even more than his message, which will keep you focused in the novel. Moreover, he has a gift of being able to impart whatever feelings he has at the moment onto the page, and in doing so, puts you into his world. This novel has been called an equal of Rocket Boys, but I think that in some ways, this novel is even better. It focuses more on the people of the town instead of showing Mr. Hickam's childhood. I also find this novel more honest and realistic of the his life. There are parts in Rocket Boys where you don't get the full story and which are covered in this book. These parts may not be the wonderful, life-always-turns-out-great kind of stories, but that's life. I think that the idea that life's not always fair, but you do what you can is conveyed even more clearly in this novel than in Rocket Boys. Having said all this though, I must admit that I like Rocket Boys more. It is not that this book is written more poorly (no, on the contrary, this book feels more mature), but simply because I enjoyed the details of Mr. Hickams early forays into the world of rocketry in that earlier book. However, The Coalwood Way is most certainly my second favorite book and I would recommend everyone to read this fascinating memoir.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading all of Homer Hickam's memoirs, and this one was no exception. He pulls you into the small town of Coalwood, and like many who have come before me, I was reluctant to leave. The Coalwood Way adds another dimension to the Rocket Boys, concentrating more on Sonny as a person, showing his fledgling attempts at love, and the struggles with his father. This one is a must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
   'Rocket Boys' (aka October Sky) was indeed a great novel with a fantastic story. Its sequel is as well, although it is a decidedly different book, both in content and tone. I loved both and marvel anew at Mr. Hickam's ability as a writer to turn the mundane into glory. The novel begins with a brief retrospective (although Hickam is clever to place it within the action so it doesn't seem as if he's bringing the reader up to date, especially the reader who hasn't read October Sky). All his main characters are firmly in place by the end of Chapter One. Where October Sky was really about Sonny's relationship to his father, The Coalwood Way is really his mother's book so keep an eye on Elsie! It is important to realize that The Coalwood Way actually takes place during the same timeframe as October Sky, actually before the science fairs. Readers who think they know the October Sky book because they've seen the movie are often confused by this if they start the series with The Coalwood Way. People, the movie is filled with errors about this story - Sonny (Homer) didn't win a scholarship! Sonny didn't quit school! Sonny didn't go to work in the mine! The true October Sky story is vastly richer than the good but essentially simple-minded story told in the movie. In the Coalwood Way, we learn so much more about the Hickam family, its relationship to Coalwood, and the really harsh rules that govern the people who live there. Although she actually occupies only a small part of the story, probably the most fascinating character is Dreama, the girl from the rough town of Gary. All she wants to be is a Coalwood girl. I won't reveal what happens to her except to say her tragedy represents all the is wrong with Coalwood society although its aftermath represents all that is good. To sum up, this is a grand book. For Jan Karon fans, this is the Mitford tale told true, and far, far richer than those books. Still, if you like Karon, you'll love Hickam!
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Rocket Boys' was indeed a great novel with a fantastic story. Its sequel is as well, although it is a decidedly different book, both in content and tone. I loved both and marvel anew at Mr. Hickam's ability as a writer to turn the mundane into glory. The novel begins with a brief retrospective (although Hickam is clever to place it within the action so it doesn't seem as if he's bringing the reader up to date, especially the reader who hasn't read October Sky). All his main characters are firmly in place by the end of Chapter One. Where October Sky was really about Sonny's relationship to his father, The Coalwood Way is really his mother's book so keep an eye on Elsie! It is important to realize that The Coalwood Way actually takes place during the same timeframe as October Sky, actually before the science fairs. Readers who think they know the October Sky book because they've seen the movie are often confused by this if they start the series with The Coalwood Way. People, the movie is filled with errors about this story - Sonny (Homer) didn't win a scholarship! Sonny didn't quit school! Sonny didn't go to work in the mine! The true October Sky story is vastly richer than the good but essentially simple-minded story told in the movie. In the Coalwood Way, we learn so much more about the Hickam family, its relationship to Coalwood, and the really harsh rules that govern the people who live there. Although she actually occupies only a small part of the story, probably the most fascinating character is Dreama, the girl from the rough town of Gary. All she wants to be is a Coalwood girl. I won't reveal what happens to her except to say her tragedy represents all the is wrong with Coalwood society although its aftermath represents all that is good. To sum up, this is a grand book. For Jan Karon fans, this is the Mitford tale told true, and far, far richer than those books. Still, if you like Karon, you'll love Hickam!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow, I thoroughly enjoyed this book as I do with all of Mr. Hickam's novels. I really felt as if I was in Coalwood. I think it is amazing how he remembers his past experiences so accurately. :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved October Sky. I love The Coalwood Way. There's something about Mr. Hickam's writing that just tickles me in the right way. I read him and pretty soon it's as if I'm right beside him and we're having this adventure together. I can't think of another writer that so absorbs me into his writing. If you have someone who needs cheering up, this book would make a great gift. It cheered me up and I wasn't even unhappy! My class and I are reading it aloud for the holidays. So far, all smiles!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was surprised to find that although there's a lot more to this book, in the end, it was a Christmas story. And a story of miracles. Mr. Hickam has a rare gift, to make a memoir read like a novel yet you can feel the underlying truths. It isn't often I can say a book has changed my life. This one has. I urge everybody to get this book for anyone troubled about life. There are wonderful answers here and they really go beyond Christmas. Even after Christmas, I would give this book to anyone sick or afflicted or spiritually troubled. Mr. Hickam doesn't write about rockets. As he says in his opening paragraph, he writes about lessons of life, or truth, as Coalwood gave him the vision to tell it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My heart and soul have been stirred by this book. I have been trying to figure out some things about myself lately and then somebody gave me this book. I hadn't read October Sky but if it's half as good, I can't wait to read it. Sonny Hickam tells a story here of true values, of miracles, of passionate truth. I'm in love with all the wonderful people of Coalwood. I especially liked the story of the deer on Christmas Eve. I will be assigning this one to my class to see how a memoir should be written.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I lost sleep reading October Sky and now Homer's done it to me again! The Coalwood Way is very different than October Sky yet it had the same means to capture my imagination and not let go. The Rocket Boys are all there, and Homer's folks, and the people of Coalwood, and some new people, too, yet I sense this book is much more spiritual than the other. Homer tells of fighting a kind of sadness that he couldn't figure out. I tell you what - I'm giving this book to all the people I know who aren't happy with their lives. I think there are a lot of answers here. Oprah, are you listening????