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The Coalwood Way (Coalwood)

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  868 ratings  ·  73 reviews
It's fall, 1959, and Homer "Sonny" Hickam and his fellow Rocket Boys are in their senior year at Big Creek High, launching handbuilt rockets that soar thousands of feet into the West Virginia sky. But in a season traditionally marked by celebrations of the spirit, Coalwood finds itself at a painful crossroads.

The strains can be felt within the Hickam home, where a beleague
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 10th 2000 by Delacorte Press
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If you had asked me after I finished Rocket Boys, the first part of Hickam's biography, I would have told you it was deeply personal and very real. After finishing this second installment I can honestly say that there was much more to come. Rocket Boys covered the years from Sputnik to high school graduation in 1960. Coalwood Way covers only the fall of 1959 but it covers that period in an in-depth way that shows just how powerful a writer Hickam is - and how traumatic such a short period of tim ...more
Second in a trilogy of memoirs that began with "Rocket Boys" (October Sky). Memoir concludes with "Sky of Stone". This one went back and went into more detail. Explores issues any boy or girl faces growing up and some peculiar to a West Virginia coal mining town. The author also struggled over his perception that his father favored his older brother. The conclusion was sublime. The traditional Christmas Pageant was set in CoalWood, not in the Holy Land. At the end, starving deer came down and at ...more
This is the second book that Homer Hickam wrote about his life and the troubles he has. An autobiography that covers his life, Homers, in his last year in high school. With a total of 360 pages it was finished in 2001. With the title “The Coalwood Way” it is very easy to figure out what the book is about, and that is what it’s like to live in Coalwood.

This book is about Homer as a teenager and how he and his dad just can’t seem to get along with one another even though they still love one anot
Aug 23, 2013 Stacy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stacy by: Jim Hart
It's a wonder Homer Hickam Jr. could remember all those details about his life at sixteen years old.

Clever, honest, and although nothing really massive or suspenseful or gripping occurs at the end of every page, when the end of page comes you cannot help but turn it over and continue. The very wit and intelligence and clarity with which the author conveys his every experience is entrancing.

Loaded with country sayings. If you grew up in the mountains but don't live there anymore and find yoursel
John Valesano
An very enjoyable read. Sonny(Homer)Hickam is now a senior in high school. He is having growing pains with the thought of leaving Coalwood and going to college, discovering girls, designing the perfect rocket, struggling with his mother's desire to leave his father and Coalwood , and seeking the acknowledgement and praise of his father. Homer does a wonderful job of presenting to the reader his transition from childhood to adulthood. He helps the reader remember their own transition into adultho ...more
This is a follow up book to Hickam's Rocket Boys...but basically covers his senior year in high school and the struggles he has in finding his own place in life, in his family, and watching his dad struggle to keep a certain mine open in spite of opposition his dad faces from others in the community.

I definitely enjoy reading his books about growing up in a coal town in that was my life as well...and I wouldn't trade my childhood for anything!
Read Ng
I don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading this book. Hickam's narrative style is just so vivid and heartwarming. It's a subset of his Rocket Boys book. If you loved that, you will not want to miss what happens leading up to the Christmas of 1959. The ending does seem to be a bit "Hollywood", but I can believe it to be mostly true nonetheless. It is a great Christmas story.

Now go out and have a GoodReads.
At first I was worried that it would repeat a lot of the Rocket Boy's book, because it covers a lot of the same time frame. But, his focus is different and I really liked his writing style and felt like I sort of had a better idea what in the heck teenage boys have goin' on inside their heads.
What can you say? It's Homer Hickam. America has to love Homer Hickam because he is smart, affable, and HH is America. I follow Hickam on Twitter. He is real. Down to earth. Not one bit puffed up. A lot like the kid he introduces us to in The Coalwood Way. Memoirs are by far my favorite genre to read. Memoirs cannot be well written unless a person has been forced by the grim realities of life to learn that it's not all grim after all. Hickam had it tough in Coalwood. He had parents who loved him ...more
Listened to the audiobook from Recorded Books

Narrated By: Frank Muller

Homer Hickam is the #1 New York Times best-selling author whose life inspired the critically acclaimed film October Sky. In The Coalwood Way he returns to his childhood home of Coalwood, West Virginia for an inspiring memoir about growing up in a town that’s slowly fading away. Homer and his close buddies, who call themselves the Rocket Boys, are high school seniors in 1959. Their rocket building experiments amaze the locals,
Well done piece on the old "company town." It is more that coal mining, it is about a kid learning life. Wish I had learned as much at his age.
Really enjoyed this, but it never had the same impact as Rocket Boys did. Was just nice to go back to Coalwood, a town that resembles my hometown, and get to know more about Homer Hickam and his time growing up there.
Eric Proctor
Another well written gem from Homer Hickam. This one delves a little deeper into a short time covered in this first memoir, Rocket Boys. However, it is less about the rockets and more about the people and the town of Coalwood. A nice look at an American town struggling to hold onto its identity.
Angie Sparks
Really good book.
Just about a perfect book. I loved and will highly recommend this. A follow up to October Sky, I actually enjoyed this a bit more. There is a lot of focus on the author's relationships with his parents and the search to find himself. I don't think I've ever read a more true portrayal of a NORMAL teen's struggles to understand life. Insightful, sensitive, funny, sweet, but to real to be sacarine. Worth saying again:

This book is a fascinating parallel to the Rocket Boys. It takes place at pretty much the exact same time but is mostly about other events that are taking place in the author's life and in the town of Coalwood. I enjoyed this book as much or more than Rocket Boys because it added so much rich background to the world of October Sky while still remaining a fascinating story in its own right.

I highly recommend the Coalwood Way.

Ann Amadori
Not really a sequel to October Sky. More, an addition, as it covers some of the same time period - Homer's first semester as a high school senior. There is less about the rockets and more about Homer trying to figure out why he has bouts of depression, as well as the meaning of his life. Also more about other residents of Coalwood and their struggles. I liked the book and am looking forward to reading the next one, Sky of Stone.
Sherry (sethurner)
The Coalwood Way is the sequel to Rocket Boys (renamed October Sky for the film of the same name). In this memoir it's 1959, and the rocket boys are having more and more difficulty getting materials and support for their experiments, and the coal mining business is also having bad times. All this leads to real difficulties for the Hickam family. I enjoyed this memoir almost as much as Rocket Boys, which is saying lots.
It's 1959 and Sonny Hickam and the Rocket Boys are in their senior year of high school. Coal mining in West Virginia is taking its toll on the community and the Hickam family. Sonny is having issues with most of life, especially his dad who seems to not get Sonny at all.
This book overlaps October Sky, but goes into much more detail of the events of Coalwood, the Rocket Boys and the Hickam family.

Beth Withers
I've read this book at least twice, and I've thoroughly enjoyed it. If you know the story portrayed in the movie October Sky, then you would enjoy this book. This was meant as a Christmas story, but it's mostly about growing up in a small coal mining town. The rocket building and the Rocket Boys are part of it, but this book goes deeper, looking at all aspects of life in Coalwood.
I am a huge fan of "Rocket Boys" and the movie "October Sky", so I was excited to read this book--although I only got about halfway through it before I stopped. He just repeats short stories that were already touched upon in "Rocket Boys". I guess I was expecting different or new stories, but the two books were too similar for my liking and I felt like I was having deja vu.
Jul 23, 2011 Dianne rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dianne by: friend Jean S.
Shelves: memoir
In this sequel to Rocket Boys, Homer Hickam is going through his senior year in high school and meeting the challenges of building a better rocket, understanding girls, and defining his place and importance in the world. His relationship with his dad continues to be a challenge. I enjoyed the read, but was anxious to see Homer move on to his future.
Robert J.
This book touches home because I also grew up in an Appalachian coal mining culture. It explains the bonds of tight knit mining communities and brings out the true grit of people facing the end of their way of life. Hickam is one of the great writers of the coal culture that once flurished in the mountains but now faces poverty and a bleak future.
I thought this book was an excellent story of small town life in a West Virginia mining town during the 1950's. I grew up in a small town in Florida, yet could relate to Hickam's humor and description of Coalwood's activities. I liked reading a chapter/night and enjoyed the pace of the story and the memoir style.

Georgiana Huizenga
This was a book selected for my book discussion group and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This gives a more complete picture of life in Coalwood, West Virginia that the reader was first introduced to it Rocket Boys. Even though it covers only the fall and winter of Homer's senior year, it fleshes out all of the characters.
A decently entertaining, if overly idealized, look at the author's teen years in a tiny West Virginia mining town. While the book addresses some of the cruelty of small town gossip, I think Hickam might have put on his rose-colored glasses more than a few times, as well. This was one of my reading group selections.
I enjoyed the historical context of this book. West Virginian coal towns were in decline. Hickman's description of Coalwood Way as it leaves it’s heyday behind is a compelling read. Interesting note: Welch, WV, where much of Jeanette Walls’ The Glass Castle is set, is in the same county as Coalwood.
This is a good book showing how kids in a coal mining area want to get away and not be miners. These seniors want more. This is the way I felt when I wanted to get away from the town where my family grew up and stayed, working in the coal mines and staying around close to family members.
Meh. After reading "Rocket Boys" I thought this was a bit of a let-down. It deals primarily with Sonny's last Christmas and is a re-hash of the same time period of his prior book. Actually I'm not quite sure why he wrote it, because it just really doesn't cover much.
I loved this book! My husband worked in Welch, West Virginia, for a time and we would always say, "I wish I knew what this town was like in its hay-day." To read this book allowed me to "visit" Welch when it was a boom-town of the coal industry.
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Homer Hickam (also known as Homer H. Hickam, Jr.) is probably best known for his award-winning memoir Rocket Boys which was adapted into the ever-popular movie October Sky. Mr. Hickam has been a coal miner, Vietnam combat veteran, scuba instructor, NASA engineer, and now a best-selling author. For more information, please go to
More about Homer Hickam...
Rocket Boys (Coalwood #1) Sky of Stone The Keeper's Son Crater (Helium-3, #1) The Dinosaur Hunter

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