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.
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 1968Week 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.