rocket boys

title: Rocket Boys: A Memoir (also published as October Sky)

author: Homer H. Hickman, Jr.

genre: Non-fiction, memoir, rockets and space

borrowed from: Dad

dates read: Feb 15th – Feb 20th

review:  5 of 5 stars

summary: Homer Hickman, Jr., from the small mining town of Coalwood, WV, is fascinated with rockets and he and his friends endeavor to find out how they work and build them.  Through their high school years they work on perfecting their rockets as the town looks on, some even helping them build and launch their creations.  Hickman’s mother is extremely supportive, seeing a better future for him if he perseveres, while his father, the superintendent of the mine, seems anything but thrilled.  This is the story of big dreams and tenacity, explosions and flight, and the love of discovery and understanding.  This is the story of the Rocket Boys.

personal thoughts: Over and over again I was amazed by the motivation the boys had in something they were clearly passionate about.  Hickman talks about how they begged to have a calculus class added to their high school so they could better understand the math behind their rockets.  They worked most weekends to perfect the rocket fuel and find out the optimum length and width for the body.  I can’t think of anything that I was so passionate about at that age.  Each boy brought important knowledge, skill, and resources to the group and it was so cool to see them work together to make their dreams come true.  It was also so amazing to see how the town came together to help them accomplish their experiments, working overtime to help them build, providing them with the funds and resources they needed to make everything possible, and encouraging their passion and drive.  So inspirational!

favorite quotes:
“When we got back to Coalwood, Dad would lift me over his shoulder and carry me to bed.  Sometimes even when I wasn’t asleep I pretended to be, just to know his touch.” p. 9

“Uncle Ken said his daddy would’ve voted for our dog Dandy before he’d have voted for a Republican.  Dad said he’d do the same before casting a ballot for a Democrat.  Dandy was a pretty popular politician at our house.” p. 17

“The summer of 1958 came, and with it, floating ships of clouds that lazily drifted by, docking sometimes in the afternoon to produce a shower to loosen the dust off the houses and the cars.” p. 125

“I thought how ironic it was that Jake’s telescope could see stars a million light-years away, but not the town it was in.  Maybe I was that way myself.  I had a clear vision of my future in space, but the life I led in Coalwood sometimes seemed to blur.” p. 137

“I had discovered that learning something, no matter how complex, wasn’t hard when I had a reason to want to know it.” p. 143

“There’s a plan.  If you’re willing to fight it hard enough, you can make it detour for a while, but you’re still going to end up wherever God wants you to be.” p. 354


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