Sonny's father was a coal miner. He was also against Sonny building rockets. He always wanted Sonny to work in the mine and be like him. Sonny's older brother was a star football player who was against Sonny making rockets. He gave Sonny a hard time about it too.
Sonny did have someone in his family that wanted him to keep building the rockets, his mother. In the beginning of the book she was the only one supporting Sonny and she stuck with him. Even though he did have accidents by the house with his rocket, like blowing up his mother's fence, she still believed in him and his dream.
However, there was an instance where his mother did disagree with him. Sonny had to overcome the words his mother said to him. Sonny's father had just been in an accident and Sonny's mom was frustrated. Sonny and his mom got into a fight and his mother slapped him and called him selfish. Sonny's only supporter in his family had just overreacted.
Sonny's family had a good reputation in Coalwood. His father was a succesful coal miner. His brother was a star football player. If Sonny built and tested his rockets in Coalwood he would be looked at strangely because it was different. When graduating from high school, the only opportunities were either a miner or a football player.
He and his friends had to overcome breaking the barrier of being the first in Coalwood to make rockets. When people heard they were making rockets, they did not understand why Sonny's rockets did not fly. This put pressure on him to be successful so he could live up to his family's respected last name.
He had to overcome the classes getting harder in Big Creek High School because of Sputnik. Russia was winning the "Space Race" and there were stories of the Russian students being smarter then the Americans. However, Sonny was barely passing algebra but to make rockets at a higher level he had to learn calculus and trigonometry. He did not get in the math class he demanded so his friend Quentin, who was in the class, taught Sonny what he learned. Overcoming the obstacles of not being in the math class and being taught by a friend helped him build rockets Sonny overcame his obstacles with help from his friends.
Sonny had to overcome himself many times. He had to get over the death of Mr. Bykovski, a machine shop worker that helped him build rockets. Mr. Bykovski was caught using the company's materials to help build the rockets so he had to work in the mine. Sonny didn't know until later that it was Mr. Bykovski's choice to stay down in the mine longer. Mr. Bykovski liked the pay. Unfortunately, an accident happened which took Mr. Bykovski's life. Sonny felt guilty about the death; he felt like he killed Mr. Bykovski by sending him into the mine. Sonny was hard to talk to during those days after the death.
Sonny also overcame his cat's death. Sonny's cat's name was Daisy Mae. Sonny believed that his cat's death was not an accident. Somebody planned to kill his cat. Sonny loved his cat and he believed he could have saved her. He had to overcome his role in killing his cat. During those times he had to keep overcoming the problems and keep building rockets.