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by Homer Hickam
List Price: $19.99 Amazon.com
Save $16.60 (83% off)
Inspired by Werner von Braun and his Cape Canaveral team, 14-year-old Homer Hickam decided in 1957 to build his own rockets. They were his ticket out of Coalwood, West Virginia, a mining town that everyone knew was dying--everyone except Sonny's father, the mine superintendent and a company man so dedicated that his family rarely... Read more
Inspired by Werner von Braun and his Cape Canaveral team, 14-year-old Homer Hickam decided in 1957 to build his own rockets. They were his ticket out of Coalwood, West Virginia, a mining town that everyone knew was dying--everyone except Sonny's father, the mine superintendent and a company man so dedicated that his family rarely saw him. Hickam's smart, iconoclastic mother wanted her son to become something more than a miner and, along with a female science teacher, encouraged the efforts of his grandiosely named Big Creek Missile Agency. He grew up to be a NASA engineer and his memoir of the bumpy ride toward a gold medal at the National Science Fair in 1960--an unprecedented honor for a miner's kid--is rich in humor as well as warm sentiment. Hickam vividly evokes a world of close communal ties in which a storekeeper who sold him saltpeter warned, "Listen, rocket boy. This stuff can blow you to kingdom come." Hickam is candid about the deep disagreements and tensions in his parents' marriage, even as he movingly depicts their quiet loyalty to each other. The portrait of his ultimately successful campaign to win his aloof father's respect is equally affecting. --Wendy Smith
Posted by Beau Thurnauer on 11/21/2000
But his life is also a model for our time. Homer Hickam is a very special person and he has told the story of his life in this book. Mr. Hickam grew up modestly in a coal mining town. His love of rocketry, no his passion for rocketry pulls him out of an average community and propels him to success inspite of his family and surroundings.
Few books appeal to adults and young adults alike. This is one. I want my wife to read it as well as my 13 year old son. Hickam is a mentor and I've never even met him. This is such down to earth honest writing it makes you smile.
Read this wonderful story and you will have a hard time approaching your next mystery or drama. It is refeshing. I don't even want to see the movie after reading this book. I want the images I have to last not the ones Hollywood created.
Posted by Alan Mills on 09/27/2003
Of course, at base, this is a typical coming of age teen story. During the course of the book, we watch as Hickman grows from a self centered kid into a teen with an accute awareness of the complexity, moral choices, and dangers of the world beyond the borders of his hometown--and of the dangers lurking right at home.
But Homer Hickman is no ordinary teen. He dreams of space. He knows he is destined to build rockets--though he knows absolutely nothing of rocketry, and is failing algebra. Nonetheless, he perseveres. Using his own natrual smarts, his ability to talk his parents, other adults, and many of his friends into anything, and using his "political" connections shrewdly (his father is the mine manager), he overcomes all hurdles--technological and personal--to build a rocket that works.
He doesn't stop there. Once he gets a rocket to fly, he wants to get one into orbit. It is this quest (reminiscent of so many other quest books form Don Quixote to Moby Dick) that forms the center piece of the narrative, and is the engine for opening his mind to the realities of the world beyond his coal mining town.
Needless to say, since he wrote the book, he obviously escaped. The journey is inspiring. The writing inspired. The book is a must read for adults and teens alike.
I was heading out of town last week for two long business travel days when a bookseller friend handed me an advance reading copy of Rocket Boys and said, "Read this and tell me what you think."
I was so moved by the book, I could not put it down. It is a classic coming-of-age tale. A sweet, poignant, inspirational tale that is good on so many, many levels. Don't get me wrong: this is no gooey memoir. It is a gritty, obviously honest and emotional story with complex characters. It is at times gripping, sad and outrageously funny. It is one of those rare books that can be read by parents and their high school-aged children with deep relevance - and inspiration - for both.
And while I could go on and on about the many facets of the book I enjoyed, I found myself most impressed by the author's ability to engage me in a story in which high school math and science play pivotal roles. While Sonny is no math genius like, say, Will Hunting, he is passionate about his quest for the mathematical knowledge that will help him break free of his coal mining hometown's gravitational pull.
This book will be required reading one day in high schools everywhere. Not only for its literary quality, but for the way in which it will surely inspire future generations of Sonny Hickams to realize winning can be found other places than on the football field; that even if your background and family seems to be overbearing burdens, you can still aim high...and soar.
Posted by Caitlin on 01/23/2000
Through reading this book, I have learned that hard work and determination will allow a person to reach his or her goals in life. In this book, Homer Hickam had many obstacles to overcome in order to reach his goal of becoming a rocket scientist. This book has taught me that if I have a dream, I must try to reach it. No matter how many and how hard the obstacles are that come in the way of dreams, a person must keep trying. I would also recommend seeing the movie that was based on this book, October Sky. October Sky is an accurate presentation of the story. If you have already seen the movie, you are sure to enjoy this book.