Chris Crutcher

Book Review: The Sledding Hill

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The Sledding Hill

by Chris Crutcher

Young Adult, 230 pages

I found The Sledding Hill after searching for books that discuss censorship. I’m interested both in challenged or banned books as well as those that mention censorship. The book is about Eddie Proffit who lost his dad and best friend, Billy Bartholomew, within months. However, most of the story is told through the eyes of Billy who watches his friend during his difficult times. It reminded me a little of Lovely Bones.  Eddie is so shaken up by these deaths that he becomes mute and talks to no one. An English teacher introduces the book Warren Peece (fake book) and there is controversy about the issues in the book. Some controversy topics in Warren Peece are a gay character, swearing, an abortion, and blasphemy. There are no actual quotes from Warren Peece. I think it would be interesting if the author created a book within a book. However, there’s a very interesting twist that happens with the author that I don’t want to spoil. Eddie and other students struggle to get their book back against the school board, church, and a youth religious group. I think this is a wonderful book for many teen issues and a great stepping stone to discuss censorship. The Sledding Hill itself may be considered threatening, which makes it a great reason to read it.

     “Folks, I’ve seen this before. They’ll tell you it’s about family values and Christian values and morality and our need to get control over our educational system. But it’s you. That’s it. Just you. If you’re going to stop this, you’re going to have to stop it yourselves. Decide whether you think your mind is strong enough to hear tough stories, told in their native tongue – and let the censors know.

– Chris Crutcher (The Sledding Hill, page 100-101)

A similar book is a review I wrote for The Day They Came to Arrest the Book. I wanted to re-post it, but decided not. Teens are fighting to get The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn back after it was banned in the classroom and library. It goes through the court and school board events. I decided to post a quotation from the book:

“No group should have veto power over what books we can read,” Barney volunteered.

“Exactly.” The librarian nodded her head. “Think, Kate. If Huckleberry Finn is going to be thrown out of school because it offends some black parents, what’s to stop other groups of parents from getting up their lists of books they want out of here? Catholics, Jews, feminists, anti-feminists, conservatives, liberals, Greeks, Turks, Armenians. Where does it end, Kate?”

– Nat Hentoff (The Day They Came to Arrest the Book)