Thursday, September 03, 2009

84. October Sky By Homer Hickam Jr

Book Around the States
West Virginia

Many of you have seen the movie that was based on this book, orginally named Rocket Boys. I loved the movie and usually don't like to read books tied to movies because I'm usually disappointed. October Sky proved to be a wonderful exception. First of all, the movie and the book are quite similar with just a few less important things left out of the movie like Homer, Jr's (Sonny) crushes and romances. I don't remember the hostility between Sonny and his brother, Jim. I don't remember a number of things and I think I'll just watch the movie again. (I love Jake Gyllenhall). First and foremost, this is a story about following your dream. "Sometimes one dream is enough to light up the whole sky." I really appreciated how following their dream with the support they received changed the lives of these five boys, all of whom went on to graduate from college. (A rarity in this corner of West Virginia in the 1950's) But you also learn about the different types of love and caring that exist: within a family, within a group of friends, between students and teacher; within a community. The support that Sonny and his friends received from the hard-pressed mining community was phenomenal. Another think I missed in the movie was the love that Sonny had for his home. This book doesn't sugar coat the remoteness of Sonny's town or the fact that it revolves around the coal mine; but it also paints a beautiful picture of the West Virginia mountains. I've driven through West Virginia and found it fascinating but can't imagine those kids traveling on a bus in the middle of winter up and down three or four mountains and around sharp curves with abrupt drops into gaping chasms. The book also gave me a glimpse into what the U.S. was like during this Cold War era with the Russians reaching space first. Hickam didn't sugar coat the difficulties of his community or within his own family and certainly was more than fair concerning his own shortcomings. But he told a gripping and heart warming story that I think anyone would enjoy.

Rating: 4.75


  1. With my back load of books I may just watch the movie. Good review.

  2. Nice review. I think this one is on my list.

  3. Oh, how I loved this movie! Thanks for your review of the book -- I wondered if it would be as good.

  4. I read this book when it first came out and absolutely loved it. I also enjoyed the movie and was pleased it was just as good as the book. Do you know that OCTOBER SKY is an anagram for ROCKET BOYS? Or, I should say ROCKET BOYS is one for OCTOBER SKY. I thought that was pretty clever. :)