Cover image for Death coming up the hill
Death coming up the hill
Crowe, Chris.
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Publication Information:
Boston ; New York : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, [2014]
Physical Description:
204 pages ; 21 cm
Douglas Ashe keeps a weekly record of historical and personal events in 1968, the year he turns seventeen, including the escalating war in Vietnam, assassinations, rampant racism, and rioting; his first girlfriend, his parents' separation, and a longed-for sister.
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Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

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It's 1968, and war is not foreign to seventeen-year-old Ashe. His dogmatic, racist father married his passionate peace-activist mother when she became pregnant with him, and ever since, the couple, like the situation in Vietnam, has been engaged in a "senseless war that could have been prevented."
nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; When his high school history teacher dares to teach the political realities of the war, Ashe grows to better understand the situation in Vietnam, his family, and the wider world around him. But when a new crisis hits his parents' marriage, Ashe finds himself trapped, with no options before him but to enter the fray.

Author Notes

Chris Crowe, a professor of English at Brigham Young University, has published award-winning fiction and nonfiction for teenagers, as well as poetry, essays, books, and many articles for academic and popular magazines. He is a popular speaker and writer in librarian and teacher circles. He lives with his wife in Provo, Utah.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In 1968, the weekly American death count in Vietnam was a regular TV news announcement; the civil rights movement made strides and lost leaders; and adults were choosing sides between the Silent Generation and the new activist one. Crowe weaves all these salient details into a novel composed entirely in haiku stanzas (though the lines all together form complete sentences and dialogue), with a syllable for every American soldier's death that year. Seventeen-year-old Ashe writes of his senior year in high school and his tense family life, dominated by his parents' loveless marriage, as well as conflicting attitudes from his new girlfriend and his civics teacher about the growing realities of war and the changing depth of the political field at home. All the while, he tries to shape an opinion of his own that fulfills his needs and those of the people around him. The unusual narrative style makes this exploration of Vietnam-era politics at home and abroad readily accessible to struggling readers, while fans of poetry may appreciate the eloquence in its brevity.--Goldsmith, Francisca Copyright 2014 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-It's 1968, and 17-year-old Ashe Douglas is coping with two devastating wars: one in Vietnam and one in his own home. His parents married young after his mother became pregnant with him and have been sticking it out in a loveless marriage for his sake ever since. The two are fiercely incompatible with fundamentally different beliefs, and Ashe is caught in the middle. Making matters worse are rising casualties in Vietnam and increasing racial and political unrest, all of which have a profound impact on Ashe and those he loves and which threaten to snap the delicate threads holding his life together. Written entirely in stanzas of haiku, the novel is composed of 16,592 syllables, one for each American soldier killed in Vietnam in 1968. This structure, while meaningful, somewhat limits the pacing and full development of the story, and the characters, at times, feel like caricatures of the era. Still, Ashe's emotional struggle is heartbreaking, and his story gives Crowe a thoughtful platform from which to explore issues of family, divorce, patriotism, peace, human compassion, and the tolls of war. It will appeal to fans of novels in verse or to readers with an interest in the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, or American history.- Lauren Strohecker, McKinley Elementary School, Abington School District, PA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



April 1969 Week Fifteen: 204 There's something tidy in seventeen syllables, a haiku neatness that leaves craters of meaning between the lines but still communicates what matters most. I don't have the time or the space to write more, so I'll write what needs to be remembered and leave it to you to fill in the gaps if you feel like it. In 1968, sixteen thousand five hundred ninety-two American soldiers died in Vietnam, and I'm dedicating one syllable to each soul as I record my own losses suffered in 1968, a year like no other. _______________________ January 1968 Week One: 184 The trouble started on New Year's Eve when Mom came home late. Way too late. Worry about Mom-- and about Dad--knotted my gut while Dad paced the living room like a panther ready to pounce. "Where the hell is she, Ashe? Those damn activists . . . I shouldn't have let her go. Well, that's the last time, the absolute last time she mixes with trouble- makers. It ends now!" He looked at me like it was somehow my fault, but I knew better. He had to blame someone, and I became an easy target. But it made me angry at him-- and at Mom, too. Why couldn't they just get along? What I wished for the new year was peace at home, in Vietnam, and the world. A normal life. Was that too much to ask for? The door creaked open, Mom stepped in, and Dad pounced. I crept up the stairs, closed my door, and tuned out. ? ? ? Later, Mom tapped on my door and came in, timid as a new kid late to school. And she smiled even though she'd just had a knock-down, drag-out with Dad. There was a light in her that I hadn't seen in a long, long time. She wanted to check on me, to make sure I was okay, to tell me that May 17, 1951, was the best day of her life because it was the day I was born, and even though things had been rough, she had no regrets. Not one. Then she hugged me and whispered that maybe, just maybe, there was light at the end of this dark tunnel. "You never know what's coming up the hill," she said, then left me alone, worrying. Excerpted from Death Coming up the Hill by Chris Crowe All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.