Cass's Reviews > Rocket Boys

Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam
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's review
Jun 19, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: books-i-own, true-stories, 2011, biography
Read in June, 2011 — I own a copy

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 which has long been a favourite feel good movie of mine. However I think I like the book for an entirely different reason. The movie is an inspirational story of a boy overcoming the odds in order to become something that was not expected of him. While the book was about that too, it was also about a lifestyle in which children where given much greater freedoms and responsibilities.

When Hickam and his buddies decided to build a rocket they went to the corner store and bought explosive chemicals in order to make it happen. When they blew up his mother's fence her reaction was to encourage him to build more and to not blow himself up. The rocket launches were incredible dangerous especially to spectators who were repeatedly diving for cars in order to avoid being impaled by rockets. Twice he describes rockets that went out of control and ended up in the town itself, potentially deadly weapons.

The story that stands out in my mind is of Hickam and his mates riding there sleds many miles to school after a snow day was declared. He ended up getting home on his own, walking through a whiteout and suffering near frostbite before coming across a home in which he was invited. He dried off and then kept on going. On arriving home his mother and father were unperplexed, not slightly bothered that there son could almost have died.

I wonder whether the Hickam's mother was so passionate about him leaving the town that she thought it better that he die trying than have to go down into the mines.

I found this book inspirational as a parent. It reminded me that children become adults quicker than we think, and are capable of much more than our current system allows for.
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Velvetink It's been a while since I read this but it still stands out in my mind.

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