Death Coming Up the Hill

Death Coming Up the Hill

by Chris Crowe


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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.”
     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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544302150
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 10/07/2014
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 1,223,026
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 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.

Read an Excerpt

April 1969Week 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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