The story is set in a small community in Idaho where two friends Eddie and Billy (the narrator) enjoy doing just about everything together, especially running and sledding. When Eddie's dad dies of a tragic accident he is devastated but at least he still has his friend Billy for support. But then two months later Billy dies in another senseless accident and Eddie goes into a total tailspin. Before Billy departs from this world he senses that he needs to stay for a while to help Eddie cope with his losses. That is how Billy can be the all-knowing narrator---he has a heavenly vantage point.
When Eddie finally returns to school after his double tragedy, he finds solace in his Modern Lit. class taught by the librarian (no wonder I like it) and the book they are assigned to read, Warren Peece. The book is chalk full of controversial topics but many students find themselves on the pages and are excited to have an opportunity to discuss the book. (And don't you just love the irony in the title of the book?) That is until the most conservative teacher and part-time pastor, Mr. Tarter, gets a few parents activated in an attempt to ban the book.
The Sledding Hill is different than any fiction book I have ever read because Chris Crutcher inserts himself into the story as the author of the fictional book, Warren Peece, and as a YA author whose works are often banned or frequently-challenged...which is really the case. Crutcher seems to have a sense of humor about himself that shows up in this book and I found it charming.
"This clever, spirited post-modern meta-narrative is a quick read that is bound to be controversial. It has no profanity, sexual acts, drug or alcohol use, or bloody violence but takes dead aim at censors."-School Library Journal
On a related note...I just finished reading this book last night. Today, out of the blue, as I was walking through the cafeteria another teacher stopped me to ask me if I had any Chris Crutcher books in the library. It seems that this teacher became acquainted with him this summer and is now a big fan, too. Weird timing and small world. Also, Chris Crutcher's webpage has a plethora of information and links to even more information about book banning and censorship. Take a look here.
Remember...banned books week is still on.
Read a banned book this week. Carry it with you to
work or school and keep the cover out for all to see!