Homer Hickam's second memoir takes us further into the soul of his hometown, Coalwood, West Virginia. The story opens in 1959 when "Sonny" and his fellow rocket boys are seniors at Big Creek High, and Coalwood finds itself at a painful crossroads. The strain is felt especially by those in the Hickam household: Homer Sr. struggles to save the mine, while his wife, Elsie, feels increasingly isolated from both her family and the townspeople. Sonny, despite a blossoming relationship with a local girl, finds his own mood darkened by an unexplainable sadness. As the holidays approach, the combination of trouble at the mine and the arrival of a beautiful young outsider bring unexpected changes in both the Hickam family and the town of Coalwood, and Hickam's luminous memoir moves toward a poignant conclusion.
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 Homer Sr. 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 world Rocket Boys.
“A heartwarmer … truly beautiful and haunting.”—People
“Irresistible … as compelling and rousing as a NASA liftoff.”—Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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.