"The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled." - Plutarch That could act as a summary to the book. At fourteen-years-old Homer Hickam was an average student with no real ambition in a dying town--and then in 1957 Sputnick swept over the October skies of West Virginia. It inspired him and his friends to start a rocket club, and in learning how to put those rockets in the air he learned physics, chemistry--and even taught himself calculus. But this is about more than rocket science--it's a love letter to his hometown: Coalwood. A company town--a coal mining town that sucked the life out of its inhabitants. But without the folk of that town, there's no way the "rocket boys" would have launched those rockets--and their dreams. Hickam dedicated the book not just to his parents but the town of Coalwood--and by the end I certainly understood why. I'm a space nut...er... enthusiast. So I admit this story might have a special resonance for me. On the other hand, a book rarely moves me to tears--and this one did. It's a memoir that reads like a novel--a page-turning, uplifting novel. There was a film based on this book. I've seen it and it's a good film. But this was a great book.