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The Coalwood Way: A Memoir (Coalwood)

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  1,130 Ratings  ·  97 Reviews
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
Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 4th 2001 by Island Books (first published October 10th 2000)
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Feb 06, 2017 Oliver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Coalwood Way is a memoir written by Homer H. Hickam Jr., and elaborates on the story that he wrote previously, titled Rocket Boys. It tells of how he managed with being the son of the local mining company’s superintendent. He is in his senior year in high school, and our story begins a few months from Christmas time, when Homer Jr., most call him Sonny, is instructed to go with his father to see his grandfather, who is in the hospital. He lost his legs in an accident at the mine he worked in ...more
May 28, 2008 Patty rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 25, 2011 07aimeeb rated it liked it
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 03, 2015 Samantha rated it really liked it
People say you know you are in love with someone when being with them is like coming home. I think this applies to books as well. The Coalwood Way is like coming home. It's weird, cause I've never been to West Virginia, built a rocket, had any interest in rockets. I've never had a brother or lived in a small town or even been to a Christmas Paegant. Still, I found myself shaking my head in agreement and relishing in the language. I think it's cause there's a part of
me-- part of us all--that cra
Rick Elinson
Jan 01, 2017 Rick Elinson rated it really liked it
I really liked the movie, "October Sky", based on Hickam's book "The Rocket Boys", so I was happy to pick up a copy of another of Hickam's memoirs about Coalwood. It did not disappoint. Hickam describes events that took place in the fall of his senior year of high school, including progress on construction of a rocket, a threatened coal strike, a disastrous Coalwood Veteran's Day float, the important Coalwood Christmas pageant, the high school Christmas formal, an outsider's attempt to become a ...more
Oct 15, 2011 Claudia rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 15, 2013 Stacy rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 15, 2013 John Valesano rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 28, 2014 Debbie rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 02, 2014 Read Ng rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, biography
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.
Mar 27, 2013 Suzy rated it it was amazing
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
Mike M
Feb 15, 2015 Mike M rated it liked it
A more apt title for The Coalwood Way would have been The Best Coalwood Christmas Pageant Ever. It covers the few months leading up to Christmas in 1959, and therefore overlaps with the time period covered in Rocket Boys, but focuses on different events. The rockets are still there, but they aren't the main focus of this story.

And maybe that's why I didn't like The Coalwood Way nearly as much as I loved Rocket Boys, especially considering I read it immediately upon finishing the latter. The town
Apr 02, 2016 Nancyann rated it it was amazing
I don't know how he did it but Homer Hickam's memoir The Coalwood Way is even better than Rocket Boys/October Sun, and that was swell. We see the mining town of Coalwood during the winter of 1959 through the eyes of Homer "Sonny" Hickam, our star Rocket Boy. For those who loved the science of Rocket Boys/October Sky there is some of that in The Coalwood Way but oh, so much more. In this sequel we are treated to more of the daily life of Coalwood, complete with its highs and lows and cast of char ...more
Jim Brohard
Feb 04, 2017 Jim Brohard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another nice visit to Coalwood

I have read 4 or 5 of Mr. Hickam's books and enjoyed every one. 'The Coalwood Way' is a deeper dive into the stories of Coalwood and a future engineer and writer growing up there during the early years of the space race. I enjoyed reading this installment of the Coalwood Trilogy. I have now read all three and hope that the author will find time to tell us more stories from his early years.
Dec 17, 2013 woody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Georgiana Huizenga
Dec 22, 2012 Georgiana Huizenga rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 19, 2016 Ellen rated it really liked it
This is a re-read. After reading "Carrying Albert Home," I felt a need to re-read one or more of the earlier Coalwood books, and remind myself of the events of Hickam's life. Also, we had driven through Coalwood and Welch several years ago, after reading the earlier books, and this time I was able to see many of the scenes as they happened.
Beth Withers
Dec 15, 2013 Beth Withers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Debbie Vest
Aug 31, 2016 Debbie Vest rated it it was amazing
Insights into the hard and difficult world of the coal miners of West Virginia in the late 1950's. The ups and downs of a teenage boy. You find yourself transported back in time. A wonderful thoughtful read.
Jan 19, 2015 Aynslie rated it it was amazing
Actual rating 4.5/5 stars. I really loved this book, but it wasn't quite as good as the first one. I forgot how much I care about the characters. I really enjoy reading about the history and the rockets and the science. This book made me laugh out loud and had me smiling like an idiot.
Oct 22, 2008 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Eric Proctor
Aug 08, 2014 Eric Proctor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Michelle Ule
Jan 26, 2013 Michelle Ule rated it really liked it
Further adventures and stories about Coalwood, the town where Hickam grew up and which was memorialized in October Sky. Interesting, thoughtful and a good read.
Jun 25, 2012 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sequel to Rocket Boys/October Sky and my favorite of Homer Hickham's Coalwood Series.
Jun 08, 2014 Tom rated it really liked it
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.
Rj Roles
Feb 25, 2013 Rj Roles rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books
a fantastic sequel to an already fantastic story and must read to anyone that has lived in the shadows of the Appalachian mountains
Jun 17, 2013 Cindy rated it really liked it
Really enjoy his writing, very humorous! Jenny had to read it for school a few years ago, she recommended it to me. I'm going to watch October Sky now....and I love that it's based on a true story.
Oct 18, 2013 Brittany rated it really liked it
A continuation of October Sky. Perhaps a little less poignant but still a good read.
Oct 22, 2015 Carole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like the way he writes. He keeps it simple but paints a great picture of life in Coalwood. He develops his characters well because he knew and liked them. Can't wait to read more!
Sunnie Hall
Jul 21, 2012 Sunnie Hall rated it really liked it
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Homer Hickam (also known as Homer H. Hickam, Jr.) is the author of many best-sellers including his latest, Carrying Albert Home. An eclectic writer, he wrote the "Coalwood Series," which includes the # 1 New York Times best-selling memoir Rocket Boys, the popular World War II-era "Josh Thurlow" series, the juvenile sci-fi "Crater" series, the adult thriller The Dinosaur Hunter, the romantic Red He ...more
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