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

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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  8,414 ratings  ·  967 reviews
Until I began to build and launch rockets, I didn't know my hometown was at war with itself over its children, and that my parents were locked in a kind of bloodless combat over how my brother and I would live our lives....And I didn't know that the enthalpy decrease in a converging passage could be transformed into jet kinetic energy if a divergent passage was added. The ...more
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Published November 1st 1998 by Simon & Schuster Audio (first published 1998)
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Erin
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.

DID ANYONE ELSE NOTICE, THAT FIFTY YEARS AGO, PEOPLE WERE HOOKING UP IN BAND BUSES!?

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
...more
Cass
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
...more
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
...more
Alan
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.
Bucko
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
Kim
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.
Pamela
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
03myrandas
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
...more
05kayleeh
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."
Teri
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.
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
Paul
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
...more
Jon
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
...more
Grace
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
...more
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
...more
04EmmaC
ROCKET BOYS


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
...more
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
John
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
...more
Bridget
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
Nola
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
Sharon
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
Kris
4 STARS

"With the grace of a natural storyteller, NASA engineer Homer Hickam paints a warm, vivid portrait of the harsh West Virginia mining town of his youth, evoking a time of innocence and promise, when anything was possible, even in a company town that swallowed its men alive. A story of romance and loss, of growing up and getting out, Homer Hickam's lush, lyrical memoir is a chronicle of triumph--at once exquisitely written and marvelously entertaining.

One of the most beloved bestsellers in
...more
Sally Knotwell
This book was a selection for our Page to Screen book club. I'd seen the movie a very long time ago and probably couldn't tell you a thing about it.

Homer "Sonny" Hickam Jr. is the son of a mine manager and homemaker in 1957 West Virginia. From the time he sees that the Russians have launched Sputnik I, he is fascinated by rockets and space. He begins to teach himself the rudiments of rocketry thru books he is able to get from school...but he needs more info. He needs to learn trigonometry and c
...more
Fredi
Rocket Boys by Homer H Hickam Jr. is an amazing book about the authors life as he grows up in a small town called Coalwood in West Virginia. In Coalwood, the only way that he can stay in town when he starts to work is by being a miner. On the other hand, his mother wanted to ensure him to go to college to get out of the town and encouraged him to build what really inspired him," Rockets." He and his friends later in the story create a rocket group called, "BCMA" and together they have the chall ...more
Natacha Ramioulle


It is about growing up in a rural mining town in West Virginia and they have a hard time to accomplish goals in space when the main concern of the town is what is below the ground, not what is above it. There is a bunch of coal mines.

I thought that this was a confusing book and would recommend it to teenagers as well as adults. It's considered an adult book, but teenagers can relate to the main character. This wasn't my favorite book.

Through reading this book, I have learned that hard work and
...more
Betsy
This was a tough one. The writing flows extremely well, and for most of the book, I was enjoying the exploits of a geeky, courageous high schooler. However, as his high school years draw to a close, it was too close to the bone in several ways. Also, in thinking back over the story, I'm not sure that he was entirely fair to several of his family/friends despite the hard times that undoubtedly occurred. It's his story, true, but his filter seems turned up pretty high.
Emily
I'm not sure why it took me so long to get around to reading this book. I loved the movie years ago, and I guess I felt that I knew the story from that, and the book wouldn't add much. I could not have been more wrong. Homer HIckam is an excellent writer. He pulls you right into the story of Coalwood. And that is what makes this memoir different from some others. This is not a story about himself. This is a story about a place. And a story about a time. He shows us his unique perspective as just ...more
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Thoughts on Rocket boys 3 67 Jul 17, 2008 07:54PM  
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6485158
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 http://www.homerhickam.com.
More about Homer Hickam...
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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.” 91 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.” 18 likes
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