OCTOBER SKY by Homer Hickam, book review by Shelley T

October Sky by Homer Hickam isn’t just a book. It’s a memoir from the author’s adolescence, who took his interest in rockets to the very sky and beyond. The book details his upbringing, and all the things he did for his passion. It’s fascinating to read this book and find out later that Homer Hickam is not only a Vietnam veteran, but he also was a NASA engineer! The idea of having a passion at such a young age and following through with it is incredibly inspiring, and I loved reading this book. His memories were so well detailed, you could relate to him and his story so easily. From his football jock-type brother Jim to the awkward but fun and eventful highschool years, it’s definitely not the same old unrealistic tale of success.

When I was reading October Sky I could just feel the author’s intelligence. He doesn’t write in a way that confuses the reader, but the way he words things makes me feel like he has a lot of experience in life. I personally hate it when I begin reading a book and the wording, punctuation, spacing all feels awkward and as if the writer didn’t put any deep thought into it. But Homer Hickam’s writing style made me feel almost like I was bonding with him, as if he let me into his mind and showed me his very memories. He tells you just enough about his past to give you a feel for who he is, but doesn’t bore you with unnecessary details.

The story is inspiring, beautiful, and real. Homer Hickam isn’t anyone special, he’s not a super genius. He’s not that good at math, he’s not super attractive, he prefers to spend his time alone in his room reading than doing anything else… He’s just Homer Hickam, one of the many kids growing up in Coalwood, West Virginia. The town he lives in is cut off from everywhere else by mountains, and almost everyone’s dads all work in the same place, the mine, the entire reason the town was founded in the first place. Everyone has opinions set about everyone else, since everyone’s parents all work in the same place. If one dad complains about another, then the kid will feel the same way towards the other kid. It’s just how it was growing up in Coalwood!

I also love the trial and error the Big Creek Missile Agency (their group of friends) went through to try to make perfect rockets. Once they found out how to make them successfully fly up into the air, they had to get them even higher. The BCMA’s passion and dedication shines strongly in this book, you can feel it like you can feel a person’s life goals and see the yearning glint in their eye when they talk about things they feel strongly about.

I would recommend October Sky to everyone. The language is pretty easy to understand, it’s down-to-earth, but it’s still smart enough that you don’t feel like the writer is a little slow. The story is fascinating and inspiring, and you can relate to the characters easily. There’s a reason this book was made into a movie, and it wasn’t just to make more money. This book is touching, it will make you laugh, pity, intrigued, but the bottom line is it will keep you reading.

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