Red Helmet
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Red Helmet

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  212 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Song Hawkins is a beautiful, tough, but lonely New York City businesswoman who thinks she's met the man of her dreams in Cable Jordan, the superintendent of a West Virginia coal mine. But soon after they impulsively marry, Song realizes they're in big trouble. She can't imagine life outside of New York, and Cable has no intention of leaving his beloved town of Highcoal.

Hardcover, 341 pages
Published February 1st 2008 by Thomas Nelson Publishers (first published 2008)
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I saw this book in a store in my recent vacation in West Virginia and was looking forward to it -- a story set in a modern West Virginia coal mining town. I'd read about historic coal mining and was curious what it's like today. Unfortunately, this turned out to be one of the worst books I've encountered in a long time, to the point that I wonder how and why it was published, especially by a well-regarded author. The premise of the story is that a coal mining superintendent meets and has a whirl...more
Matthew Perry
I have sat and digested this book the best that I can. First off it is not by any stretch my favorite Hickam book I like all the Thurlow and Coalwood books better, with that being said though this book was still a very interesting read. I did not particualrly like either main character maybe thats my own fault just didn't like the personality of either Song or Cable. This book starts off with almost strictly a love story through roughly the first 10 chapters then it gets interesting. This is whe...more
I loved this book! I think it would be a good book club book.
Valerie Patterson
This is an excellent book! I had it sitting on my "to-be-read" shelf for more than a year before I finally began reading it. Once I started, I couldn't put it down, and in fact read it in one sitting!

Hickman does a superb job pulling the reader right into the thick of things. His characters are so well crafted, you want to meet them!

Hickman's knowledge of mining and the plight of the miner seals the deal, making this a book of a collaborative effort of both fact and fiction.

Song--the heroine--is...more
Emily Michelle
I read this book because when I picked it up at the library and read the blurb--"Her helmet says she's clueless about coal mining. She knows even less about love."--I thought that surely it had to be a joke. Turns out it's not.

The novel is set in the hills of West Virginia and deals with the romantic entanglements of a tough-as-nails New York businesswoman and a ruggedly handsome mine superintendent. It's a fairly implausible premise, unless it's for a dime-store romance novel, but I don't think...more
I've had this book on my to-read shelf for a long time and haven't gotten around to it, mostly because my local library does not carry it. I bought it for my Kindle for a plane trip.

I like Homer Hickam and especially Rocket Boy. Knowing that he grew up in a coal mining town and his father worked in the mine made me expect that this would be great. The coal mining parts were great, very realistic and I learned a lot about coal mining and coal miners. Unfortunately, the character Song comes across...more
Song and Cable marry on a romantic holiday, but their relationship falls apart when they get back to real life. Cable isn't willing to leave his small home town of Highcoal, West Virginia, where he is the superintendant of the local coal mine, and Song isn't willing to leave her job as head of acquisitions for her father's New York company. Song decides to annul the marriage after a disasterous trip to Highcoal, but a mining accident and a slightly manipulative father take her back to the town,...more
I am so sad about this book. This was my first Home Hickam book - which by the way I had been pronouncing hickman for years- a fellow west virginian. At first I was all too excited when he began to describe west virginia, when he spoke of the wonderous mountains and the green pines. But slowly things began to fall apart. This book turned into an awkward 'love story' of every last detail in a coal mine operation. Some insight was great, as I am a coal lover (mountains more, it's ironic) and Hicka...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Red Helmet is the only book I've read by Homar Hickham, and although it is fairly interesting in its way--how many books are there about the lives of modern-day West Virginia coal miners?--it didn't live up to my expectations.

The book is divided into 3 parts: Part 1 sets up the marriage between a rich New York City businesswoman and a West Virginia mine manager, showing just how out-of-place she is in his world; Part 2 details her adventures in trying to become a coal miner (the "red helmet" of...more
Mar 22, 2008 Carol rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: anyone
Very good read. I learned a lot about coal mining. Having lived in West Virgnina all my life, I know very little about coal mining and coal mining towns. All the miners in this book had nicknames. I have no idea whether or not this is true. I have heard the expression "I swan" when I was a child. It was said by older people in the small community where I grew up but I have not heard it in many years. In this book, Sonny Hickam uses it more times than I can count. He used it in his other books, t...more
I enjoy Homer Hickman's writing and had purchased this book about a year ago, but tucked in on the shelf. As I was preparing for my East Coast trip, I grabbed it to read on the plane. It seemed the perfect story to be reading as the recent WV Coalmining disaster in Montcoal had just occured.

Caleb "Cable" Jordan, the superintendent of a WV coal mine, falls in love with Song Hawkins,the daughter of one of the richest men in the US. They meet while each is vacationing on the island of St. John. Ca...more
About two years ago I really bought this book on a whim, because I thought the cover was pretty. Not realy knowing what is was about I picked it up three days ago to finally get it off my shelf. I did not expect anything from this book, particularly because the subject, coal mining, is something I know nothing about, and usually does not interest me very much. The first few chapters were slow and I really thought it was going to take me ages to finish this but, with the beginning of part two (th...more
Song Hawkins is a beautiful, tough, but lonely New York City businesswoman who thinks she's met the man of her dreams in Cable Jordan, the superintendent of a West Virginia coal mine. But soon after they impulsively marry, Song realizes they're in big trouble. She can't imagine life outside of New York, and Cable has no intention of leaving his beloved town of Highcoal.

Song's visit to the little mining community only makes things worse. It looks like the marriage is over. But in a shocking turn...more
Angela Cyrus
I loved this book. I usually read mystery/suspense books, but the reviews on this book were very good and my dad and husband work in the coal mines so I bought it. I think that anyone who has a husband or family member who works in the coal mines should read this. I didn't realize what my husband goes through everyday when he leaves the house to go to work, but reading this book made me realize how hard he works to take care of us and that when he leaves for work each day there is a possibility...more
Beth Mitchell
Hickham knows West Virginia, and he did a great job of detailing the coal mines. Not sure how to categorize it, it's sorta romance, but the love story is the weakest part of the book.
Made me homesick.
Not worthy of his previous Coalwood Way series; I was initially very disappointed in the first half of the book. I've very much enjoyed the first four books I'd read by him but this one felt like a run of the mill romance novel; at it's offset. Midway, the story became more focused; set against the West Virginia coal mines that Hickam knows viscerally. I'd say that the reproduction of his moving tribute to the victims of the Sago Mine disaster, that appears at the end of the book; is almost wort...more
I do like to curl up with a book and learn something/go somewhere/understand something that I didn't before. This novel built around and Appalachian coal mining town and it's newcomer provided that. The story was interesting, and the place setting came to life,but the town of Highcoal and life in the mine were more compelling to me than the main plot line. Homer Hickman, author of Rocket Boys (a great movie), writes about the heart of America and the people and heroes that make our nation great....more
"Red Helmet" is very realistic and interesting. It contains enough description and factual information to satisfy my curiosity about coal mining. The characters are believable and in most cases, likeable. There are some crude comments, but this is part of the realism and is not contrived. My concerns arise from the spiritual content of the novel. It seems to me that a reader could read the book and finish confused as to the way to salvation. Mr. Hickam confronts and incorporates spirituality, bu...more
Spencer Hill
This is the first fiction I have read by Hickam. Its not Faulkner, but its not Danielle Steele either. To me its a story of place much like Conroy, Siddon, or Frank are to the SC low country. It made me home sick for the WV I grew up in and I could see the characters as people I knew. It also showed WV as not a bunch of hillbillies as portrayed on TV, but as thoughtful community of people with strong convictions.

I would strongly suggest that all displaced West Virginians to read this book to get...more
Sharon Ader
I liked the information I learned about coal mining. I believe that the miners and their families are very brave and courageous people. I really enjoyed reading the last couple of pages of the book which was the eulogy for the 13 coal miners that died in the Sago West Virginia disaster. BUT I didn't care for the fictional story. I didn't like the woman until she became a coal miner. This was a book I could have put down at any moment. It took me forever to read because I just didn't care.
Song Hawkins is a NYC business queen who falls for a West Virginia coal miner, Cable. Complications arise when they decide to get married on a whim. Song finds out she's not cut out for life in Highcoal and Cable, the mine super, can't give up on his hometown. Will they ever find a compromise? Add in the town gossip, the governor, and the mystery of missing coal. An average read, I enjoyed it. The ending was a little sappy for me.
Hickam, of "Rocket Boys" fame, returns to what he knows -- West Virginia -- but this story is beneath the earth instead of in the sky above.
From the beginning, it's apparent that the country bumpkin will get the NYC girl ... and in truth, the protagonists may be the weakest part of this book. The supporting characters are much more interesting, informative and entertaining and Hickam knows the coal mines.
It's not as well written as I had hoped.
My family and I were in West Virginia, visiting a museum before heading to our actual destination.
I came across a man selling several copies of this book, and after reading the back of it, I wanted to purchase it. The fifteen dollars I had to pay seems like it was too much now.
It's not bad, don't get me wrong. It's just not as good as I had hoped.
This story was phenomenal because of the level each of the two main characters had to change in order to pursue the strong love they had for one another. They each gave all they had to give to one another.

Also, the mention of God was so miniscule. The characters' actions carried the information about God's character and love. It was powerful in its practical omission.
Carolyn Hall
It is very rare that a book captures my attention to the point that I will rush home just so I can read, but this one did! I was already familiar with the author, Homer Hickam, from October Sky/Rocket Boys fame. Mr. Hickam has the ability to blend suspense, romance, faith, and good old fashioned values into a must read. I highly recommend this book!
Kae Larsen
I think he had a good story but just didn't tell it well. His main character was odd in discription. Mistaken for a boy in one chapter and then the next chapter she was supposedly amazingly beautiful who turned heads.... too much of a reach for me to put much into her, and especially as a heroine.
Peg Lotvin
A simple love story but with a twist. I learned lots about mining underground coal in West Virginia. Also about the newest way to mine coal, by shearing off the mountain tops to get at hidden coal. This is a tragedy in all parts of Appalachia that have coal deposits we need----or want.
I have had this on a to read list for a while. I missed it when it came out in paperback. A return to coal mining, while not on the level of Rocket Boys, it is an enjoyable book. I wanted to know that the characters worked out their issues and that the mine survived early in the book.
I love Homer Hickam, hence the 4 stars. And he got back to coal mining, which I love about his writing. For plot other than the coal mining part, I give it 3 stars, as it was a little predictable and trite. I won't give up on him, but I like his first "autobiographical" stuff better!
I love Homer Hickam's writing. This isn't my favorite book by it was a bit to romance(y) for me...When I read his works, I don't want to read romance. Still worth 4 stars..although his other reads by me have handily received 5 stars.
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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 The Coalwood Way: A Memoir Sky of Stone The Keeper's Son Crater (Helium-3, #1)

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