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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 listeners say about Rocket Boys

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
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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.

10 people found this helpful

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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.

7 people found this 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.

3 people found this 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 people found this helpful

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It sucks

I hated the book, the story is bad and the characters are unlikable


-student who was forced to read/listen to it

1 person found this 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 person found this helpful

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it’s boring sorry sonny.

i don’t like it. it’s boring. like what’s the point of this being a story? sorry sonny! i it’s your life and all but i simply don’t care that much.

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I now plan to read all his books.

I grew up in Huntsville AL and Homer Hickam lived at the base of “my” mountain. My parents talked of him and my mom had a signed copy of Rocket Boys. She would not let me take it out if the house to borrow and read it. I am so grateful for this Audible version. The narrator is perfect. The telling of this Homer’s true life adventure as a boy growing from coal mining town youngster to rocket scientist will thrill anyone with an interest in either. The story is humorous, winsome, and encouraging. I am a rocket scientist daughter of a rocket scientist, and I also spent part of a summer in coal mining town of Welch West Virginia. I so relate to Homer Hickam’s life experiences, I want to find a way to write him and say thank you for becoming an author.

By the way, there is another chopped up version of this title on audible, which needs to be removed by admin. But the one I am reviewing narrated by Tom Stechschulte is pure joy to me. It is true that if you liked the movie “October Sky”, you will find great pleasure in this unabridged full telling of Homer Hickam’s story.

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Great story

Loved it. Good reading ad fantastic motivational story. A must read. For all ages. Read this book!

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Beautiful memoir

Engaging coming-of-age story of a West Virginia coal miner’s son breaking free from cultural expectations to pursue a dream of building rockets. Narration was excellent.