Death Coming Up the Hill

by Chris Crowe

A strikingly innovative and powerful story. Death Coming Up the Hill portrays the momentous events of the year 1968—the escalating war in Vietnam, the explosive Democratic Convention in Chicago, the Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy assassinations, the menace of the draft, and rampant racism—as seen through the eyes of a perceptive seventeen-year-old American male. Told in verse with 52 episodes—one for each week of the year.

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780544302150
  • ISBN-10: 054430215X
  • Pages: 208
  • Publication Date: 10/07/2014
  • Carton Quantity: 24

Also available in:

About the Book
About the Author
  • About the Book
    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
  • Excerpts

    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.

  • Reviews
    "Through simple yet powerful words, Crowe expertly reveals life in 1968...Teens wil be drawn to what it is like to be living an everyday existence during wartime." 



    "The unusual narrative style makes this exploration of Vietnam-era politics at home and abroad readily accessible to struggling readers, while fans of poetry may appreciate the eloquence in its brevity." 



    "Readers will settle quickly into the haiku, most likely either ignoring it or pausing to take notice of those moments in which the rhythm cannily emulates speech patterns. YAs convinced they don’t like historical fiction should take a look at this gripping, fast-moving quick pick." 


You May Also Enjoy