Book #5, The Coalwood Way by Homer Hickam, is yet another memoir. I'm stunned by how much I'm enjoying reading non-fiction. I've owned The Coalwood Way for a few years; I became interested in Hickam after watching October Sky as part of the curriculum where I teach.
Hickam isn't just a rocket engineer, he's also a talented writer. Reading his memoir was just like reading a novel. The stories were connected, interesting, and he managed to capture the youthful moments he had as a senior in high school with an adult lens that we can all identify with. Ther relationship with his father, very extreme in the movie, wasn't as extreme in the memoir. He captures the true desolation of growing up in a mine town, yet also knows and understands that Coalwood defines him and it will always be a part of who he is and it's a good thing.
This book inspires hard work and hope in the face of obstacles. Homer is an ordinary guy, he has to study to make good grades, he's not a child prodigy; his success came because he worked his ass off and capitalized on his talents. There are lessons in this book that people should learn whether they're teenagers or adults, and the lessons are taught through stories and experience.