Ashe is used to living in a war zone. After all, his parents are only together because of him. His dad was on his way to getting a job with the NFL after college, but he had to drop out after Ashe’s mom got pregnant. While it is clear both his parents love him to death, they don’t share the same affection for each other. Most of his life has been spent in a cold war situation.
With the real war in Vietnam heating up, Ashe realizes just how far apart his parents have become. His dad is completely supportive of the war while his mom begins to attend rallies to end the war. In the middle of this, a new girl begins to attend his school and he quickly becomes entranced with her. Her brother is off already fighting in the war in Vietnam.
Things really begin to fall apart when Ashe’s mom does something his father just can’t, or won’t, forgive. Ashe is being asked to choose between two people he loves dearly, but who are pulling him in opposite directions.
Death Coming Up the Hill by Chris Crowe is written as a novel in verse and is a fast and engaging read. Seeing Ashe struggle between knowing what his mother did was wrong, but understanding why she did it as well as seeing how his father can feel. It also gives the reader a view into a very tumultuous year in our history – 1968.
Recommended for 8th graders because of the subject matter.