Sunday, August 29, 2010

October Sky (Aka Rocket Boys: A Memoir)
Homer Hickam

rating: 9 out of 10 "books"

I know of quite a few people who hate when books are turned into movies. Common complaints include the degredation of the story from book to screen (you can't squeeze a whole book into a 90 minute movie!), departure of characters (appearance, or total deletion of), and yada, yada, yada, but honestly, I like book to movie adaptations because I think it's a great way to discover new books (or more specifically authors), that you may not have known existed before. What better way for kids to get into reading than for them to find out their favorite movie was adapted from a book? Especially when that movie is based on a real story?

I had never even heard of Homer Hickam until I saw the movie. "October Sky" is the story of a boy growing up in a small coal town and dreaming bigger than the life set out before him. During the on-set of the Space Race, Homer becomes facinated with the idea of outer space and the (at the time) seemingly science fiction-like possibility of putting a man in space. Despite his poor grades and lack of socio-economic opportunities growing up in West Virginia, Homer studies hard and learns beyond his school classes to persue his dream. He and his friends, the Rocket Boys, face challenges left and right; from their peers bullying them, to the company town threatening to shut down their rocket activities, to the school principal himself calling their rockets "bombs." Probably one of the biggest issues in this story, however, is the relationship Homer has with his father. It's heartbreaking at times to read how hard Mr. Hickam is on his son, and the disappointment Homer brings his dad when he dreams outside of Coalwood instead of following in his footsteps and becoming a coal miner.

I really enjoyed this book. Again having seen the movie before reading the book and then going back and seeing how things may have been added or deleted from book to movie might have put me off a little, but nothing too serious. Yes, some characters were different (some altogether excluded!) and some versions of how things "went down" may have been altered a bit, but all the same, it was an enjoyable read. I myself can understand the need to get out of a life you don't want, or a place that you don't want to be stuck in. That is why I give this story a rating of 9 "books."

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