by Homer Hickam
Originally published as Rocket Boys
October Sky is the touching and inspiring true story of a group of boys growing up in the mining town of Coalwood, West Virginia. The launch of Sputnik in the 1950s ignites their imaginations: they begin building rockets with the encouragement of supportive teachers and helpful miners who offered scrap materials. Readers will laugh and cry as Sonny comes to terms with his relationships with his family and achieves success no one in Coalwood dared hope for. In a town dependent on dwindling coal resources, the Rocket Boys allow Coalwood to invest in a different resource: the intelligence and enthusiasm of their young people. The story of Hickam and his Rocket Boys is now a major motion picture.
The true story, originally published as Rocket Boys, that inspired the Universal Pictures film.
It was 1957, the year Sputnik raced across the Appalachian sky, and the small town of Coalwood, West Virginia, was slowly dying.
Faced with an uncertain future, Homer Hickam nurtured a dream: to send rockets into outer space. The introspective son of the mine's superintendent and a mother determined to get him out of Coalwood forever, Homer fell in with a group of misfits who learned not only how to turn scraps of metal into sophisticated rockets but how to sustain their hope in a town that swallowed its men alive.
As the boys began to light up the tarry skies with their flaming projectiles and dreams of glory, Coalwood, and the Hickams, would never be the same.
"A thoroughly charming memoirâ€¦[an] eloquent evocation of a lost time and place. . . . Mr. Hickam builds a story of overcoming obstacles worthy of Frank Capra, especially in its sweetness and honest sentimentality." â€”Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times
"[Hickam] is a very adept storytellerâ€“.â€“.â€“.â€“Itâ€™s a good bet this is the story as he told it to himself. It is a lovely one, and in the career of Homer H. Hickam, Jr., who prevailed over the facts of his life to become a NASA engineer training astronauts for space walks, that made all the difference." â€”The New York Times Book Review
"Hickam has a great story to tell. . . . Rocket Boys will certainly strike a nostalgic chord in anyone who grew up during the early days of the space race, but its appeal goes beyond that. . . . Hickamâ€™s recollections of small-town America in the last years of small-town America are so cinematic that even those of us who didnâ€™t grow up there might imagine we did." â€”The Philadelphia Inquirer
"A stirring tale that offers something unusual these days . . . a message of hope in an age of cynicism. . . . Perhaps we all have something to learn from a half-dozen boys who dared to reject all limitations . . . and resolved to send dreams roaring to the sky." â€”The San Diego Union-Tribune
"Unforgettable . . . Unlike so many memoirs, this book brings to life more than one manâ€™s experiences. It brings to life the lost town of Coalwood, W.Va." â€”USA Today
About the author:
Homer H. Hickam, Jr., was born and raised in Coalwood, West Virginia. The author of Torpedo Junction, a Military History Book of the Month Club selection, as well as numerous articles for such publications as Smithsonian Air and Space and American History Illustrated, he is a NASA payload training manager for the International Space Program and lives in Huntsville, Alabama.