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The Coalwood Way (2000)

by Homer Hickam

Series: Coalwood (2)

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421750,910 (3.75)8
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… (more)
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» See also 8 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
americana, memoir, mining ( )
  Bruce_Deming | Feb 5, 2016 |
I've read this book at least twice, and I've thoroughly enjoyed it. If you know the story portrayed in the movie October Sky, then you would enjoy this book. This was meant as a Christmas story, but it's mostly about growing up in a small coal mining town. The rocket building and the Rocket Boys are part of it, but this book goes deeper, looking at all aspects of life in Coalwood. ( )
  hobbitprincess | Dec 15, 2013 |
If you had asked me after I finished Rocket Boys, the first part of Hickam's biography, I would have told you it was deeply personal and very real. After finishing this second installment I can honestly say that there was much more to come. Rocket Boys covered the years from Sputnik to high school graduation in 1960. Coalwood Way covers only the fall of 1959 but it covers that period in an in-depth way that shows just how powerful a writer Hickam is - and how traumatic such a short period of time can be to a teenager. The first book spend most of its time covering the building of the rockets and the development of the relationships between the boys and the adults who helped or hindered that project. The 2nd book is much more insular, dealing with Sonny's relationship with his parents and brother, with all its ups and downs. As always, the coal mine in Coalwood, WV plays a major role as the town revolves around its workings.

This is a great series of books and I can't wait to read the next episode. ( )
  bookswoman | Mar 31, 2013 |
Another visit to the author's hometown of Coalwood. The previous book focused on home-built rockets. This one is about adolescent angst, family relationships, and life in a small mining town. Enjoyed it very much. ( )
  TulsaTV | May 30, 2012 |
If you read "Rocket Boys", you will love following the continuing story of Sonny. If you haven't read it, you can still easily get wrapped up this story and transported to Coalwood, WV. I loved this book! ( )
  kjflaherty | Jun 10, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Matters of faith are not really accessible to our rational thinking. I find it best not to ask any questions, but to just believe...
--Dr. Wernher von Braun, rocket scientist

The Lord works us...even though we don't know it.
--The Reverend Julius "Little" Richard, preacher

There are girls and then there are girls. But that girl there is a woman. Don't ever get them confused.
--Roy Lee Cooke, the Big Creek lovemaster
Dedication
To Charlie, Linda D., and Susan Black, beloved family, who left us much too soon.
First words
Of all the lessons I learned when I built my rockets, the most important were not about chemistry, physics, or metallurgy, but of virtues, sins, and other true things that shape us as surely as rivers carve valleys, or rain melts mountains, or currents push apart the sea.
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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

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