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Rocket Boys: A Memoir
Homer Hickam
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Rocket Boys: A Memoir (Coalwood)

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  9,210 ratings  ·  1,022 reviews
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 s
Published (first published 1998)
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If there is one, just ONE thing that was monumentally historic in this book, a revealing glimpse into our culture's rich history and sociological mindset, it had nothing to do with rockets.


Holy mother of french horns, it's ingrained in our history. I'm not talking to you, ex-cheerleaders belonging to the "'Twilight' fanclubs", you emo english lit majors arguing over poe. You couldn't understand.

Only a certain ty
This book was fabulous. It is the type of book I will be lending to everyone. It is mostly a true story (though the author admits to taking some license) about Homer Hickam, Jr. and his rocket building club. Hickam grew up in a mining town in which the only job choice was to become a miner. His mother wanted to ensure he got out of the town and encouraged him to build rockets as a means of proving to his father that he was smart enough to go to college.

This book inspired the movie October Sky wh
Mark Mallett
Interesting that "October Sky" (the name of the movie) is an anagram of "Rocket Boys" (the name of the book - the original name anyway).

Although I was a teenager more than a decade later than Hickam was, some of the things he wrote about hit close to home. I, too, grew up in a rural area - on a dirt road in the woods of NH. I remember what it's like to lie in the dark in the middle of nowhere and watch for satellites. I and my circle of friends experimented pretty freely on our own with things l
Loved it! The sequels are not as good as he milks the story for more and more books, but the original is fantastic. I've read this three or four times and bought the movie (October Sky). This is a great book about coming of age and relationships and meeting your goals and is great for all kids.
M.J. Johnson
When in Wales recently I finished reading October Sky by Homer H Hickam, which seemed to have a certain synchronicity for me at that moment in time. The book is set in Coalwood, West Virginia, a long way from Aberdare in the valleys of South Wales where I spent my earliest years and where its unmissable cemetery is the final resting place for generations of my ancestors. Mining was the lifeblood of both Coalwood and Aberdare, and my grandfather died from the same miners' lung disease that took H ...more
Homer Hickam recounts how he and his classmates, inspired by the launch of Sputnick, taught themselves (with a little help from some key adults) how to build rockets in the late 1950s. Hickam proves himself a more than capable storyteller, mixing equal parts nostalgia, humor, and teenage angst as he tells his story, including a warts-and-all look at his hometown and the coal company which gave it life. The result is a finely crafted tale of heartbreak and consternation, despair and, ultimately, ...more
I just finished reading this wonderful memoir of six boys growing up in a dead-end coal-mining town in West Virginia. The writing is lyrical and wholesome, yet quietly incisive, similar to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Hickam interweaves several stories with incredible skill, evoking the dreams and sorrows of teenage boys, recalling the nascent years of the space race, describing the hardships of living in southern West Virginia when coal was king. I highly recommend it.
During the eighties I was the store manager for Toys and Gifts Outlet in Oklahoma City. Loved that job! It was comprised of many elements I enjoy: creativity, organization, team-building, spatial aptitude, business mathematics, diversity, physicality and social interaction. Being a decade before the microchip exploded onto the scene in full force – kids, and adults alike, still found joy in non-computerized toys and hobbies that required a bit of mentality, physicality, skill, and/or self-genera ...more
Holly Ahaus
I personally enjoy reading memoirs because it's not an autobiography that's like "hey here's some general stuff about me" but rather a personal interpretation of the most important time of a person's life. And who's to know if it's hyperbole, opinion, or straight fact? No one, but it's always told the way it should be. That's the vibe I got from October Sky. I can imagine Homer Hickam sitting somewhere trying to come up with the best way to describe the dread he felt towards working in the mine, ...more
This book was certainly entertaining and emotional. Sonny Hickam's story is certainly a touching one, and space and science enthusiasts will enjoy this book to no end. But, for all you tearjerker lovers, there were many parts where I almost cried. The only reason I gave this book four stars was because of some confusing parts in the story.
October Sky I think is a very bad book but it is also a OK book because of some of these quality things.

Homer H. Hickmam, Jr. people call him Sonny is not like any other boys. He likes to build rockets his dad doesn't want him to but his mom is ok with it as long as he does not blow himself up. He starts building his rockets with his friends Roy Lee, Sherman, O'Dell, and Quentin. They start trying out the formulas for the rocker fuel. Then they start building the parts with Sonny's dad's worker
If you love to read about someones life that is really boring, the person is lame and very selfish. There are tons of science related things(that the normal person doesn't care about) and it's story line needs to be flushed down the toilet. And it would have been slightly decent if there was romance. (I know that there was a little bit, but it was only four lines and no detail so I didn't count it.) So if you are some one who likes those kind of books then you are going to love "October Sky."
Just A. Bean
Very similar to the film, for those who have seen it, though lacking the extra drama in the second act. Unsurprisingly, the book pulls most of its tension from Sonny's emotional state, not from external threats, which, when they pop up, are dealt with almost immediately. It worked in the book, and the prose is smooth and humorous. The author mentioned changing things around a bit for narrative flow, but it made a good enough story that it's difficult to mind.

All of the rocket building and explos
A wonderful, coming of age story of Homer Hickam and his Big Creek Missile Agency friends. I found myself captivated by his experiences, point of view and the descriptive way he captured so many youthhood relationships, from his father to his beloved cat and so many others in between. This novel was both touching and relatable, a fantastic read.
McKenna Lee
It's a beautiful story of perseverance and discovery. It demonstrates that you don't have to know everything to accomplish your dreams.
Michael Burnam-fink
There are moments that feel like they'll last forever, moments that tie the smallest lives to the grandest events. One of those moments was Sputnik in 1957, when a boy in West Virginia looked at a moving light in the sky, and dreamed that he would build a rocket. But unlike a thousand other dreamers, Homer Hickham built his rockets, and in 'Rocket Boys' he takes us back to his childhood in Coalwood, and way in which a whole town achieved escape velocity from the daily tyranny of mining and high ...more
Jonathan L
Personally I though October Sky was a great book. The book goes through all of the emotions. Some of the emotions included were sympathy, happiness, and eagerness to get to next page. I’ll have to say. I almost put the book down in the beginning. After you get through the fifty pages or introduction, the book gets real good. I was actually surprised how good it got to be when I got to the “juicy” part of the book. It had a great ending. The ending was kind of a little sadder than I thought it wo ...more
Rocket Boys is a heart-felt story written by Homer H.Hickham,Jr. that shows the true ambition and strength of boy who completes his Journey by putting his mind to it. Homer H.Hickham, better known as Sonny in the book, is a teenager who lives in Coalwood, Virgina. Sonny,as they call him has always been very intellegant from the start. He would always do more than what was asked of him and it is one of the reasons why he made it to where he wanted to go. Growing up Sonny lived with his parents Ho ...more
Elise Rhein
Book: Rocket Boys
Author: Homer H. Hickam. Jr.
Type of book: Non-Fiction
The Number One Rocket
Rocket Boys, is a fun and exciting book. A book about a young man and his friends who want to do something with there life's but have know idea what. This book is during a time when all that matted in Coalwood was coal mining and high school football. But when a couple of misfits who have no idea, and little knowledge of what they wanted to be when they grow up, decided one day that they had to have a bet
I only have one real complaint with this book. Rocket Boys is ostensibly a work of non-fiction, but the author's note refers to an "author's license" and "certain liberties in the telling of the story." I think this note under-states the extent to which the story has clearly been fictionalized. The too-good-to-be-true coincidences of timing eventually made me realize that the details of this story are not to be taken literally.

Otherwise, however, this is a wonderful book. I feel like the world I
Mar 26, 2013 Grace rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: You better read it. I gave it five stars.
Usually, I'm not particularly interested in reading memoirs, but this book is the exception to the rule.

Once a upon a time in Earth Science class, when we were learning about space and the planets (I swear we learn it every year, but whatever), our Earth Science teacher decided to show us a film called October Sky. At first, I thought. Oh, another one of those silly science videos they show us every year like Bill Nye the science guy, but worse. I think I'll just take a nap.

On the contrary, it
Zach Hartzell
Rocket Boys
Homer H. Hickam Jr.
Genre: Autobiography
Theme: Follow Your Dreams

Sonny (Homer H. Hickam Jr.) is a boy growing up in a cole mining town. His father runs the cole mines and all life in the town of Coalwood revolves around the mining of coal. Sonny is expected by the family to grow up and work in the mines but all we wants to do is design and build rockets. Dr. von Braun's work with Sputnik inspires Sonny and his gang of friends to step outside their normal lifestyles and the town's expec

Boom! Swish!! Crack!!! Auk XXll leaps into the sky and explodes! You would think that a book about rockets shooting a thousand feet into the air would be exciting. Well, the book Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam, Jr. is probably the furthest thing from exciting.

Sonny Hickam and his friends (O’Dell, Billy, Sherman, Roy Lee) have a special interest for rockets, so they decide to build and fly rockets. They call their club the Rocket Boys. The rockets that they build have problems with fly
Kayvin Elliott
Homer Hickam wrote the story October Sky. The story takes place in Coalwood, West Virginia in 1957, when a group of four boys called the "Rocket Boys" did something no one thought they could ever do. Homer Hickman as a young boy wanted to be a rocket scientist, which is why he put together the small group so they could build a Rocket. They built a rocket called "Sputnik" which failed several times but the four boys never gave up on what they knew was possible. Although no one believed in the boy ...more
If I have an absolute favorite book this would have to be it. It is such a wonderful and inspiring story that I recommend it to everyone It is the true story of a group of boys growing up in a tiny coal mining town in rural West Virginia who are so captivated by the sight of the Russian Sputnik satellite orbiting overhead that they decide to build their own rocket. With little information available to them they tackle task by trial and error, often with hilarious results. Inspired by their teach ...more
Frances Kelly
This is one of the books that reminds me why I love being in a book club - it forces me to read books I would never have selected to read or even become aware of.

I was fairly certain I would not like this book, and I read the first chapter with a negative predisposition toward it, just to decide whether I would actually read it. About ten chapters later, I realized I could not have been more wrong. I was absolutely hooked and I never looked back.

It's one of the best, most inspiring stories I've
As so many others have said in the past, the memoirs of Homer Hickam are enjoyable at different levels. The rocket science here is interesting, but really serves mainly as the narrative driver of this account of coming of age. As someone who grew up on the edges of Appalachia (raised in York, PA and undergraduate college in Pittsburgh, PA) the social environment and personality types that Homer encounters in his hometown of Coalwood and in Big Creek High School were familiar to me. I think this ...more
After crying my eyes out (in my car dealership, no less) while watching the movie, I learned that the movie was based on a book that is a memoir written by Homer Hickam and I had to read it. The book was not especially "exciting" or "fast-moving" but there was something about the story that I found really compelling. To me, the real story was in the time period - the 1950's in a West Virginia coal mining town and the dreams of some kids that might have otherwise not had many options. I laughed a ...more
This is the book that the movie, October Sky, was based on. It is a true story of several young men, sons of West Virginia coal miners with virtually no hope of higher education. And yet they defied the odds by seeking a goal and attaining it. They set the sky above their town on fire with home made rockets, applying themselves to subjects like Calculus, Chemistry, and Physics because that was what they needed to reach their goal. Although I read this years before I ever decided to homeschool, t ...more
Rocket Boys captures the true American spirit and love of rocketry at a time when little was known about rocket building. The BCMA boys of Coalwood, WV, form friendships and merge their science and math knowledge to build and launch rockets, as well as, win a national science fair. Their perseverance brings them prestige and excitement to Coalwood, a mining community. Author Homer Hickam reveals the vibrant personalities who influenced his life: Miss Riley, an inspirational teacher; his distant ...more
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Thoughts on Rocket boys 3 67 Jul 17, 2008 07:54PM  
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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
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“I had discovered that learning something, no matter how complex, wasn't hard when I had a reason to want to know it.” 97 likes
“Not much comes easy in this world, Sonny. If it does, it's best to be suspicious of it. It's probably not worth much.” 20 likes
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