Rocket Boys

By Homer Hickam,

Book cover of Rocket Boys: A Memoir

Book description

Previously published in paperback as October Sky.

Three years in the life of Homer 'Sonny' Hickam, from the moment he sees the Sputnik satellite overhead in West Virginia to his successful launch of a prizewinning rocket.

In 1957, Coalwood, West Virginia, was a town the post-war boom never quite reached,…


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Why read it?

2 authors picked Rocket Boys as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The basis for the movie October Sky, this isn’t an account of the space program so much as it is a study of the types of people drawn to it, in particular a young man in 1950s West Virginia striving for something more than a life in the coal mines. The culture shock of Sputnik sets him and his friends off into increasingly dangerous—and often hilarious—experiments in amateur rocketry. Set against an awkward adolescence in a small coal town, it’s a vivid illustration of the obstacles that must be overcome to break free of the cycles life can impose.…

From Patrick's list on space history that read like novels.

The Rocket Boys is a heartwarming memoir about a group of boys growing up in a mining town in West Virginia in the 1950s. Inspired by Sputnik and the space race, the boys start building rockets on the edge of town. There is a delightful chapter where maths geek Quentin realises that in order to get the rockets to fly higher, the boys are going to need to study ‘calculus.’ They decide to lobby their math teacher to give them extra lessons, but he refuses, as he doesn’t think they have the aptitude. I love this reversal of the normal…

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