Death Coming Up the Hill

Death Coming Up the Hill

by Chris Crowe


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544302150
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 10/07/2014
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 1,266,554
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile: 930L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

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

Read an Excerpt

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.

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Death Coming Up the Hill 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars There’s a war going on in Vietnam and also one in Ashe’s house. Both wars are leaving a line of destruction, tearing apart lives, creating wounds that will take years to heal and unfortunately for Ashe, he feels the effect from both of these battles. Being seventeen and an only child, doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel the effects of war, it’s around him: he feels it at school, his friend Angela’s family is missing a son/brother who whereabouts are yet to be determined and his father, well his views of the war, you just don’t want to get him started as he’s very vocal and intense. The year is 1968 and Ashe’s parents have opposite views of the war, the tension is high in the house and Ashe is the middle again. Mom’s tired of screaming, the arguments between this married couple have been going on for years, so the silent treatment is being played out and it’s driving dad crazy. Dad’s racial and radical views seem over the top and I can see how it pushes the rest of the family in the shadows as he goes off in his tangents. The drama does not cease within the walls of Ashe’s house, it only escalates and I had a huge OMG moment where I was lost for words as their lives hung in the balance. I smiled to myself as I just wanted the book to end, I did….I really just wanted it to end. It was one of those ha, gotcha moments were it really didn’t matter what happened next, where life is life and all is good. Can’t we just quit at that? But no, there had to be closure, a big bow tied on the end of the story and that okay for some but I had my moment and I was happy. Ashe is confronted with emotions everywhere. His teacher breaks down while discussing the war, his memories are haunting him and while Angela comforts him, she takes control of the situation and dismisses the class. The country is in turmoil and the book is heaving with emotions from all the characters, no one is steady on their feet. Ashe is concerned about his future after high school, he fears going to war, he fears what will transpire with his parents and then Angela walks into his life. She’s not there to save him as she has her own issues that she confronting but she’s someone Ashe can open up to. Written in haiku, I found that it took me a while to get used to reading this text in this format. Parts of this novel really worked and were extremely emotional written in this poetic format while others sections, I found difficult to get into the flow of the meter.