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Rocket Boys

The Coalwood Series, Book 1
Narrated by: Tom Stechschulte
Series: Coalwood, Book 1
Length: 13 hrs and 38 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (666 ratings)

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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)

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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.

9 of 9 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.

5 of 5 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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The BEST Narrator!

I listened to this on audio, and let me tell you, that was the RIGHT choice. The narrator is AMAZING.

I was already a fan of the movie October Sky, and I owned a secondhand paperback copy of this book when I decided to get the audiobook.

It was everything I hoped it would be and I cried (along with the narrator who seemed to genuinely choke up at a certain point) during the last half hour.

I am still a little emotionally raw at the moment, but trust me, this book (and the audio version!!!!!) are sooooo worth the time.

I loved this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent read

So much of this tale reminds me of my father and his father's experiences in the Silver King mine located in Park City, Utah. My father became an engineer and worked for NASA and the Air Force. He often spoke of the strength and stamina of mine workers but also of the need to dream.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Shawn
  • Mount Olive, MS, United States
  • 08-07-19

An audio time machine to the 1950s

I was born in 1981, but was always fascinated by the 1950s. Rocket Boys is a delight of nostalgia. Full of great, "wish I was there" moments from start to finish!

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Excellent Performance and Story

Excellent performance by the narrator even down to the slang. Had my interest the whole time, hooked on every moment anticipating the outcome. A++ 10/10 ( Go Rocket Boys ) 🚀

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The full tale of October Sky.

I remember watch the movie when I was younger. The books were always long but I've really wanted to get around to at least get around to them. I'm glad I did.

Just as with the movie, Homer's tale of chacing his boyhood dream is fantastic but without the flowery Hollywood shine that the movie portrays. Coalwood feels dirtier but homey. The main character is flawed, immature and geeky and has to go through a number of painful growths that really seem harsh but help him grow stronger as a person. The attempts on his rockets are much more fleshed out and their eventual evolution from backwood IEDs to actual rockets is much greater felt.

Then there is the prefomance. Just fantastic. Without a doubt he is the best man at preforming the many W. Virginia accent with different twists to make each feel unique. You can even feel him break a few times toward the end, like during the last rocket launch. Without a doubt; fantastic work.

This is a story of growth. One without the shine or the virtue signaling crap that passes for "coming of age" or "inspirational " these days. Do yourself a favor and grab the prequel "carrying Albert home". More fantastical but shines with Homer's ability to craft good stories.

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Prodigious

Wonderful story of a young man and his friends overcoming poverty and adversity to seek out their dreams.

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Amazing Story!

Honestly one of my favorite story’s. It’s simply breathtaking and realistic! I truly appreciate everything that the Author wrote in the story. Absolutely better than the movie!