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

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
Chris Crowe

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 and follow him on Twitter @crowechris.  


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.


"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."