The Rocket Boys
The Rocket Boys is a memoir written by Homer H. Hickam. The book reflects on Hickam’s past experiences: his childhood, Coalwood(home town), and family experiences. He not only discusses his dreams and efforts to pursue those dreams but also gives credit to those who helped him along the way. Homer Hickam also mentions those who opposed him in fulfilling his dreams. He admits that life inside the Hickam household was not always pleasant and warm. However, he successfully portrays his feelings, thoughts, expressions, and concerns throughout the series of events in his life.
As a child, Homer Hickam Jr. was referred to as “Sunny” and later as “Sonny”. He lived with two parents, Homer Hickam(his dad) and Mrs. Hickam. Sonny’s brother was Jim. Early in the novel, Hickam mentions the fight that he and his brother had as children. Their relationship is very weak and silent. They hardly say anything to each other on a daily basis. Hickam’s mom and dad often get into many arguments due to their opposing opinions. Hickam admits that tension and uncomforting silence that exists between the members of the family.
As a child, Homer Hickam grew up with a group of friends: O’Dell, Sherman, and Roy Lee. As friends, they experienced and played many childhood games and went to school together. During their first year of high school, Sonny and his friends grew an interest in rocketry, which first blossomed when Sonny’s first made rocket burned the fence of his house. Therefore, they created their own rocket group, the BCMA, and around town they were known as the rocket boys. Homer’s interest and growing knowledge in rockets inspires him to become an engineer, but this contradicts his father’s plans for Sonny’s life. As a miner, Sonny’s dad merely wishes for Sonny to be one as well.
One theme of the book which may be minor is the rivalry of the Russian Sputnik against American missiles in an attempt to reach to the moon. When the Russians land a rocket on the moon’s surface, Big Creek High(as well as the rest of the nation) is truly dismayed and believe the Russians are smarter than all Americans. Schools like Big Creek High are forced to give their students more homework and advanced teaching so that America can outsmart Russia. Sonny’s rocket group is seen by many as an opportunity for the rocket boys to gain capacity to only overcome the Russian’s technology and its capability.