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Death Coming Up the Hill


Death Coming Up the Hill

The year is 1968, and America is deep into the Vietnam War.  Seventeen-year-old Ashe is all too familiar with fighting as he struggles to navigate his home life.  His mother is a deeply passionate peace-activist who despises the war.  His father is a racist, war-loving man who only married Ashe’s mother when she became pregnant with him.  Ashe has known since he was six years old that his parents stay together only out of love for him, not for each other.  As he tries to make sense of the war overseas and the war in his own home, Ashe meets hippie girl Angela.  Angela is beautiful, kind and Ashe’s main source of happiness through the chaos in his life.
Ashe’s story is one that will touch the hearts of many --- he is an amazing character who is thoughtful and kind but not without fault.
Unfortunately, things go from bad to worse.  The war in Vietnam is heating up and so is the tension between Ashe’s parents.  A surprising betrayal from Ashe’s mother causes his father to finally end the marriage.  Soon Ashe is put in the middle of a harsh battle between his mother and father.  If he leaves his mother, he knows she won’t be able to take care of herself.  If he leaves his father, he knows that he will be denied the college education he’s always wanted and instead be drafted into the war.  Ashe must find the courage and wisdom to do what is right for himself and his family in the extremely moving novel DEATH COMING UP THE HILL.
Ashe’s story is one that will touch the hearts of many --- he is an amazing character who is thoughtful and kind but not without fault.  He is terrified of being drafted to Vietnam, but his fear of going to war and of the destruction he knows he will witness makes him relatable and realistic.  The love he shows every character in the novel, even those he doesn’t always agree with, is heartwarming.  This makes the situation he is put in all the more heartbreaking for the readers to witness.  The other characters in the novel, especially Ashe’s mother and Angela, are just as complex and interesting as Ashe himself.
While the characters are definitely a great piece of the novel, the most interesting part about it is the format.  DEATH IS COMING UP THE HILL is written entirely of haikus, and every syllable represents a fallen soldier.  To be honest, when I first saw this I was hesitant; I thought it might be more difficult to read this way and that the story would suffer because of the format.  Quite the opposite was true.  The story flowed seamlessly and was only enhanced by its poetic form.  The amount of thought and work that must have gone into creating this novel is amazing in and of itself.  Readers of all ages will adore Crowe’s writing and appreciate Ashe and his story during one of the tensest periods of American history.

Reviewed by Cheyenne C., Teen Board Member on October 7, 2014

Death Coming Up the Hill
by Chris Crowe

  • Publication Date: May 29, 2018
  • Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult 12+
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1328904105
  • ISBN-13: 9781328904102