****The Coalwood Way
by Homer Hickam
A Sonderbooks' Best Book of 2001
2000. Available at Sembach Library (B HIC).
This was a beautiful book by the author of Rocket Boys,
which was made into the movie October Sky
. When we were
visiting America at the 2000 New Year, several people told us we had
to watch the movie October Sky.
We did, and it was fabulous
and inspiring, about a group of West Virginia high school boys who built
rockets in the hope of winning a scholarship to get out of a lifetime
working in the coal mines.
After seeing the movie, of course I had to read the book it was
based on. The truth is, I was a bit disappointed. I learned
that the real story wasn’t quite as inspiring as the movie. The
movie makers changed some facts to make it a more inspiring tale, and it
worked. I also wasn’t particularly interested in the author’s first
experience with sex, which I thought diluted the inspiring message, and
made me more reluctant to recommend it, particularly to teenage boys!
The Coalwood Way,
however, is everything I hoped a book
by Homer Hickam would be. I liked it much better than the October
book, and as well as the October Sky
book dealt with the same time period in his life, his last couple of years
of high school, when he was building rockets and dreaming of better things.
For this book, the rockets were only a backdrop. It dealt with
his relationship with his father, his mother, his brother, and the whole
community of Coalwood which he was trying to leave. Those relationships
were complex, and the author succeeded in showing their many sides.
He had me shedding tears in places, then managed to close with an inspiring
finish that tied it all together. A magnificent book. Please
check it out quickly, so I have an excuse not to send it back to the
book rental company!
Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.
All rights reserved.
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