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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best-selling 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. Nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Homer Hickam's lush, lyrical memoir is a marvelously entertaining chronicle of triumph.

©1998 Homer Hickam (P)2011 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"A thoroughly charming memoir... [An] eloquent evocation of a lost time and place." ( The New York Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Paula
  • Overland Park, KS USA
  • 10-03-16

Endearing Memoir of the Early Space Race

Born in the 40's or 50's? This book is for you -- full of nostalgic events and settings that will take you back to a time when poodle skirts and DA hair cuts, saddle oxfords and suede shoes were the fads of the day. Most of all, this memoir recounts in a wonderful voice, the coming to age of Homer Hickam in the coal country of West Virginia. While the story is mostly about boys, it is not just a story of interest to boys. Yes, it has science in it and views the world from the personna of a teenage male, but it will interest women who may remember these days too. It may even interest younger women who want to better understand the events that chartered America's leadership of the space race.

Great narration of a well crafted story. Highly recommended.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Joseph
  • YORK, PA, United States
  • 04-21-12

A memoir that reads like a novel

This is a coming of age story in a small West Virginia coal mining town. Not only does the author captivate you with his childhood story, he makes you applaud his and his friends accomplishments with amateur rocketry. His passion and imagination takes him to the stars. A great story showing that with a lot of passion and support, one can do anything in life. Except for his singing, the narrator did a good job. I think he would have been better off reading the lyrics.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Great Story about Growing Up

This book is probably my all time favorite memoir, though I admit I've read relatively little of the genre. It presents a rich portrait of life in late 1950's West Virginia that is simultaneously colored with nostalgia and lamentation. Ultimately though, there is a mostly happy ending that will leave the reader satisfied and with some lasting observations to ponder.

When I first read this book while still in school almost a decade ago, the part that grabbed my attention was the unifying narrative of the BCMA. The observations about the community were interesting, but rather removed from my experience, as was the complicated family dynamic. Now, though still somewhat foreign, and perhaps for that reason, the author's experiences struggling with his parents and the atmosphere of uncertainty that shaped the lives of everyone in his West Virginia mining town are just as if not more intriguing. The book while being nominally about something else, manages to explain the mechanics of mining, and life as a miner. If you didn't go to a high school where the only three likely outcomes for a boy were becoming a miner, a soldier, or going to college on a football scholarship, I think you would find these details enlightening.

The power of an education in science and math is something else this book illustrates wonderfully, and is a lesson I wish I'd heeded as a younger man. We can't all be engineers of course, but it seems like more couldn't hurt.

Tom Stechschulte seems to have a voice purposefully designed for nostalgic contemplation. It is at once deliberate and subtly emotional. In short, it feels like the perfect vehicle for the author's recollection. This is not a performance in which characterizations really jump out at you, but it isn't meant to be.

I would recommend this book to anyone.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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inspiring, exhilarating, entertaining

I was recommended this book by my brother and was not disappointed. it is a story both individual and societal of an awakening from the way things are to what they will become

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The best book of the year for me

Tom Stechschulte he could read the phone book and it would be interesting what a wonderful story

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The Complete Story of "October Sky"

I am so glad I found this book. The movie "October Sky" is a favorite of our family, but like seemingly all Hollywood dramatizations of real events it omitted, or simply lied about, a great many things that are important to the real coming of age story of "Sonny" Hickam. The book is filled with characters critical to Sonny's development - and to the success of the Rocket Boys - that didn't make it to the screenplay; characters that I am very glad to now have been able know. But perhaps most significant was the depth of Sonny's dad, Homer. I was always troubled by the movie's one-dimensional portrayal of Homer. Suffice it to say that the real Homer was a far more complex, and sympathetic, man than the character outlined in the movie.

Bottom line: "October Sky" is still a favorite, but the next time I watch it my mind will be able to flesh-out the film's flimsy narrative into a far more substantial and ultimately satisfying story. If you liked the movie, you'll love this book. If you haven't seen the movie you should - after enjoying this book.

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amazing

I loved this book. it was an assignment for college and I am so glad it was.

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Rocket science at its best

There's nothing like a good story! This book is a shining example of just that - moving, enthralling, delightful. Beautifully written and aptly performed.

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Great story.

Any additional comments?

Wonderfully enjoyable story. The author's license was utilized well, enhancing the lives of the boys and their exploits.

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loved by whole family

good. real good. all of the book is read well and is super exciting especially when they launch