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The Coalwood Way

A Memoir

By , (Narrator)

Audio Download published by Random House Digital (Random House Digital)

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About This Book
It's fall, 1959, and Homer "Sonny" Hickam and his fellow Rocket Boys are in their senior year at Big Creek High, launching handbuilt rockets that soar thousands of feet into the West Virginia sky. But in a season traditionally marked by celebrations of the spirit, Coalwood finds itself at a painful crossroads.

The strains can be felt within the Hickam home, where a beleaguered HomerSr. is resorting to a daring but risky plan to keep the mine alive, and his wife Elsie is feeling increasingly isolated from both her family and the townspeople. And Sonny, despite a blossoming relationship with a local girl whose dreams are as big as his, finds his own mood repeatedly darkened by an unexplainable sadness.

Eager to rally the town's spirits and make her son's final holiday season at home a memorable one, Elsie enlists Sonny and the Rocket Boys' aid in making the Coalwood Christmas Pageant the best ever. But trouble at the mine and the arrival of a beautiful young outsider threaten to tear the community apart when it most needs to come together. And when disaster strikes at home, and Elsie's beloved pet squirrel escapes under his watch, Sonny realizes that helping his town and redeeming himself in his mother's eyes may be a bigger-and more rewarding-challenge than he has ever faced.

The result is pure storytelling magic- a tale of small-town parades and big-hearted preachers, the timeless love of families and unforgettable adventures of boyhood friends-that could only come from the man who brought the worldRocket Boys


From the Hardcover edition.
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It's fall, 1959, and Homer "Sonny" Hickam and his fellow Rocket Boys are in their senior year at Big Creek High, launching handbuilt rockets that soar thousands of feet into the West Virginia sky. But in a season traditionally marked by celebrations of the spirit, Coalwood finds itself at a painful crossroads.

The strains can be felt within the Hickam home, where a beleaguered HomerSr. is resorting to a daring but risky plan to keep the mine alive, and his wife Elsie is feeling increasingly isolated from both her family and the townspeople. And Sonny, despite a blossoming relationship with a local girl whose dreams are as big as his, finds his own mood repeatedly darkened by an unexplainable sadness.

Eager to rally the town's spirits and make her son's final holiday season at home a memorable one, Elsie enlists Sonny and the Rocket Boys' aid in making the Coalwood Christmas Pageant the best ever. But trouble at the mine and the arrival of a beautiful young outsider threaten to tear the community apart when it most needs to come together. And when disaster strikes at home, and Elsie's beloved pet squirrel escapes under his watch, Sonny realizes that helping his town and redeeming himself in his mother's eyes may be a bigger-and more rewarding-challenge than he has ever faced.

The result is pure storytelling magic- a tale of small-town parades and big-hearted preachers, the timeless love of families and unforgettable adventures of boyhood friends-that could only come from the man who brought the worldRocket Boys


From the Hardcover edition.
Product Details
Audio Download
Published: November 15, 2012
Publisher: Random House Digital
Imprint: Random House Digital
ISBN: 9780553753165
Other books byHomer H. Hickam
  • Red Helmet

    Red Helmet
    Song Hawkins is a beautiful, tough, but lonely New York City businesswoman who thinks she's met the man of her dreams in Cable Jordan, the superintendent of a West Virginia coal mine. But soon after they impulsively marry, Song realizes they're in big trouble. She can't imagine life outside of New York, and Cable has no intention of leaving his beloved town of Highcoal. Song's visit to the little mining community only makes things worse. It looks like the marriage is over. But in a shocking turn of events, Song realizes it's up to her to put on the red helmet of the new coal miner and descend into the deep darkness. There she faces her greatest challenge with choices and courage that will forever impact the life of Cable and the entire town.

    Rocket Boys

    Rocket Boys
    The #1 New York Times bestselling 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. With the grace of a natural storyteller, NASA engineer Homer Hickam paints a warm, vivid portrait of the harsh West Virginia mining town of his youth, evoking a time of innocence and promise, when anything was possible, even in a company town that swallowed its men alive. A story of romance and loss, of growing up and getting out, Homer Hickam's lush, lyrical memoir is a chronicle of triumph—at once exquisitely written and marvelously entertaining. Now with 8 pages of photographs. A number-one New York Times bestseller in mass market, brought to the screen in the acclaimed film October Sky, Homer Hickam's memoir, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, comes to trade paperback with an all-new photo insert. One of the most beloved bestsellers in recent years, Rocket Boys is a uniquely American memoir. A powerful, luminous story of coming of age at the end of the 1950s, it is the story of a mother's love and a father's fears, of growing up and getting out. With the grace of a natural storyteller, Homer Hickam looks back after a distinguished NASA career to tell his own true story of growing up in a dying coal town and of how, against the odds, he made his dreams of launching rockets into outer space come true. A story of romance and loss and a keen portrait of life at an extraordinary point in American history, Rocket Boys is a chronicle of triumph.

    Rocket Boys

    Rocket Boys
    A Memoir
    Until I began to build and launch rockets, I didn't know my hometown was at war with itself over its children, and that my parents were locked in a kind of bloodless combat over how my brother and I would live our lives....And I didn't know that the enthalpy decrease in a converging passage could be transformed into jet kinetic energy if a divergent passage was added. The other boys discovered their own truths when we built our rockets, but those were mine. So begins Homer "Sonny" Hickam, Jr.'s extraordinary memoir of life in Coalwood, West Virginia -- a hardscrabble little company town where the only things that mattered were coal mining and high-school football. The son of the mine's superintendent and a mother determined to push her son to a better life, Sonny fell in with a group of misfits for whom the future looked uncertain. But in 1957, after watching the Soviet SatelliteSputnik streak across the sky, Sonny and his teenage friends took their future into their own hands, changing their lives and their town forever. Looking back after a distinguished NASA career that fulfilled his boyhood ambition, Hickam shares the story of his youth, taking listeners into the life of the little mining town and the boys who came to embody both its tensions and its dreams. With the help -- and sometimes hindrance -- of the people of Coalwood, the Rocket Boys learn not only how to turn mine scraps into rockets that soar miles into the heavens, but how to find hope in a town that progress is passing by. In this uniquely American memoir, Homer Hickam beautifully captures a moment when a dying town, a divided family, and a band of teenage dreamers dared to set their sights on the stars -- and saw a future that the nation was just beginning to imagine.

    We Are Not Afraid

    We Are Not Afraid
    Strength and Courage from the Town That...
    Today, fear affects even the strongest of us. Sometimes it's immediate, caused by a sense of imminent danger-the kind we felt after terrorists destroyed the magnificent World Trade Center, tore a giant wound in the Pentagon and killed thousands of people. But sometimes fear becomes a normal way of life. In his best-selling memoir October Sky (aka Rocket Boys), Hickam introduced us to the rugged town of his youth, Coalwood, West Virginia, and the people who took on the hazardous and often brutal enterprise of coal mining. To survive and prosper, these people relied on an approach to living that would get them through hard times with an almost unnatural resilience. Over a lifetime, they learned to take on these attitudes: We are proud of who we are. We stand up for what we believe. We keep our families together. We trust in God but rely on ourselves. These attitudes are summed up in the Coalwood Assumption: WE ARE NOT AFRAID Through poignant memories of his youth, best selling author Homer Hickam helps lead you beyond fear to find the courage and strength to live more happily and look toward to future with optimism.

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