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

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  11,168 Ratings  ·  1,178 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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Homer Hickam It has been read successfully in many middle schools across the country. There is some mild profanity and some implied high school 50's sex but that's…moreIt has been read successfully in many middle schools across the country. There is some mild profanity and some implied high school 50's sex but that's about all. I wouldn't go below the 8th grade, though.(less)
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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
Jun 19, 2011 Cass rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 08, 2009 Mark Mallett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
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
Feb 02, 2009 Alan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
M.J. Johnson
Jun 20, 2012 M.J. Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
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
Aug 28, 2007 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfictionmemoir
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.
Feb 13, 2016 Aynslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Still one of my favourite books. Heartwarming, sincere and inspiring.
Frances Scott
Nov 07, 2015 Frances Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, union-township
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
Holly Ahaus
Aug 31, 2014 Holly Ahaus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 09, 2014 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 03, 2011 03myrandas rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 17, 2011 05kayleeh rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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."
Derek Wentling
May 22, 2015 Derek Wentling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: october-sky
The narrator of the book is Homer Hickam Jr, and this was a first person narration story. The narrator is a reliable source due to the fact that this is his actual life story that he is telling. The time period of this book is in the late 1950’s and is set in Coalwood West Virginia. The author of the book is Homer Hickam. He tells his life story of growing up and having a dream to build and work on rockets. Homer Hickam had first published this book as Rocket Boys and it later was renamed to Oct ...more
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
Apr 20, 2013 Teri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Shelby Kin
May 22, 2015 Shelby Kin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The American Classic, October Sky, was written and narrated by the well-known author, Homer Hickam Jr. His memoir was based off the life in Coalwood, West Virginia around the time of the launching of Sputnik, October 1957. This novel was written in first-person, describing Homer's childhood events that started his rocket career. The mining setting allowed "Sonny" to get the right materials and the space he needed to build his rockets. As Sonny's only way out of the mining business and Coalwood, ...more
Mar 19, 2016 Nancyann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rocket Boys is the perfect title for this book, the revised title of October Sky is inadequate. This is the awe inspiring true story of high school boys from Coalwood, WV, who decide to teach themselves the science of rocketry in an attempt to perhaps one day enter the space race against the Soviet Union. We are treated to descriptions of Mr. Hickam's life in a mining town, the assortment of small town characters, the deep friendships, the loving yet troubled families, and at the heart of it the ...more
Nov 03, 2015 Rym rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-memoir, 2014
Một cuốn hay mà ít người biết (list bạn bè gần trăm người mà mới có một người đọc cuốn này).

Thấy tội quá nên bới lên cho ai hứng thú thì đọc thử.
Aug 08, 2014 McKenna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a beautiful story of perseverance and discovery. It demonstrates that you don't have to know everything to accomplish your dreams.
Aug 03, 2015 Samantha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD AND I WILL ALWAYS HOLD IT CLOSE TO ME. A uniquely American memoir, Rocket Boys tells the story of Homer and his friends' endeavors into the art of rocket building. It was funny and believable and smart and undeniably interesting. A couple of miners' sons from West Virginia did something so great and so important, and that in itself is enough to make the book a classic (in my opinion). I am in awe of all that was accomplished and so eloquently stated in this incredible memoi ...more
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
Nov 10, 2011 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 10, 2011 Elise Rhein rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 26, 2010 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 it was amazing  ·  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
Mar 10, 2009 Zach Hartzell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 24, 2011 04EmmaC rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

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
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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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“I had discovered that learning something, no matter how complex, wasn't hard when I had a reason to want to know it.” 114 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.” 25 likes
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