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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.
About the Author
CHRIS CROWE , a professor of English at Brigham Young University, has published award-winning fiction and nonfiction for teenagers, 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. Learn more about Chris at chriscrowe.com and follow him on Twitter @crowechris.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.