Book Review: The Sledding Hill

The Sledding Hill by Chris Crutcher

SUMMARY: Fourteen-year-old Billy Bartholomew is dead. His best friend, Eddie Proffit, is not. Eddis has always had a mind that worked in odd ways. Odd and brilliant. Like now. He's on the sledding hill. Him and Billy. They're talking the way they always did. About school. About Jesus. About freedom. About banning books and fighting for books. Eddie knows it might make people think he's crazy, but talking to Billy helps him figure out exactly how to deal with the political issues happening in his community.(adapted from the back cover)

OPINION: I really wanted to like this book. I love Chris Crutcher. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes is an amazing book that everyone should read. I usually appreciate the complexity of the characters and situations in his books. But this one didn't do much for me. Eddie is a great character, and one I was totally invested in finding out about, particularly as Billy makes contact with him. But many of the other characters came out as stereotypes in the book banning portion of the story, such as "the intolerant pastor," "the heroic librarian," "the political school board," and "the sanctimonious students." Sure, Crutcher is one of the most banned YA authors around today (probably second only to Judy Blume); if anyone should write this book, it's him. And it's totally cool how he writes himself into the story. Still, I just wish the second half of the book continued the character development rather than devolving into a series of speeches. Also, the title really doesn't have a whole lot to do with the story. Nevertheless, if you are a Crutcher fan or if you are into free speech issues, you should pick up this book.

BEST QUOTE: "Man, why do they want to control your head? Jesus would have finished that book. He would of taken Chris Crutcher out for a McWine and McBread lunch after he read it, too. He would of underlined all the good parts and read 'em to His friends out in some corner of the playground. Jesus was a tough guy. Didn't those guys READ those Bible lessons? Jesus wouldn't stop you from reading stuff; he'd talk to you after you did." (p.145-146)


Megan G. said...

Concerning the fact that the title has nothing to do with the book: Have you ever read a Chris Crutcher book whose title was something that was really relevant to the story? Ever?

Gretchen said...

good point. my favorite crutcher book title is _the crazy horse electric game_, which is a wacky title, but which actualy has more to do with the story than most other titles of his books!!

Jenna said...

The title DOES have to do with the book. It was a while ago that I read it but I believe it's something about a memory the kid who died (I can't remember his name...) has of sledding down this one hill with his friends. The Crazy Horse Electric Game is a relevant title. So is Deadline. haven't read anything else by him yet...

I mean, the title of The Sledding Hill doesn't have some major meaning in the story but it is in there. But it wasn't just some random thing he pulled out of no where and decided to use as the title either.