The Sledding Hill Book Poster Image

The Sledding Hill

(i)

 

Ghost boy tells the story of a book-banning.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Various teen problems, such as anorexia and cutting, are mentioned. Racism among religious zealots.

Violence

A man and a boy are killed in accidents. An abusive parent.

Sex

Masturbation and abortion are mentioned. A gay character comes out.

Language

References to curse words, but none actually used.

Consumerism

Newman popcorn mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while he carefully avoids language, sex, violence, etc. in his own story, the author refers to it in other stories. He is being deliberately provocative here in a way that will trouble some parents, especially religious fundamentalists. He also loads the deck pretty heavily -- this is a diatribe, not an invitation to two-sided discussion.

What's the story?

Eddie has a lot to deal with. His father and his best friend, Billy, are both killed accidentally within a month, and Eddie is the one who finds both bodies. Now he's being haunted by Billy, who also is the narrator of the story. His mother is being drawn further in to a fundamentalist church, led by Reverend Tarter, who is a busy guy: he is also an English teacher at Eddie's school, is trying to manipulate Eddie into joining the saved, and is working with his congregation to get a book banned at school.

That book, Warren Peece is a fake book by the real author of this book, Chris Crutcher, who becomes a character in his own book when he gets involved in the effort to stop the banning. And that book happens to be the only meaningful thing Eddie has found to help him deal with his grief. So Eddie, though he hasn't spoken since he found Billy's body, is determined to save the book, and take down the Reverend at the same time.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

As is almost always the case when an author has a Point to make, the Point here comes before the story; too much of the book consists of characters acting as the author's mouthpieces. Though the author at one point makes a halfhearted nod to evenhandedness, this is an angry diatribe cloaked in humor, which doesn't make for three-dimensional characters or much emotional involvement on the part of the reader. But it's a mostly enjoyable read nonetheless, and it addresses a compelling issue in a way that will get kids talking.

Chris Crutcher is mad as, well, heck, and he's not going to take it anymore. All of his previous books have been the target of censorship efforts, and here he is taking on would-be banners directly, in a book in which they will find no bad language or sex acts or violence, but has content designed to be objectionable to them anyway. The whole book is Crutcher's way of saying, "Come and get me."

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about many issues addressed in this book: censorship, church/state division, racism, and more. Parents can ask their kids if it's ever right to ban a book, if there should be any restrictions on what children read, if religion has a place in school, and where the rights of each individual and family begin and end.

Book details

Author:Chris Crutcher
Genre:School
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:William Morrow
Publication date:June 24, 2005
Number of pages:230

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Adult Written byalposs April 9, 2008
Teen, 13 years old Written byicanbeveryawesome December 15, 2013

half & half

I am 13, and I didn't think The Sledding Hill was appropriate. First off, the material was just over my head. Don't even make me mention the fact that it was disrespectful towards Christians/Catholics! Mentioning a Religion I get, but ghosts? I didn't even get what the whole after life thing was about. Plus, some religions don't believe in ghosts so, another reason why it's disrespectful towards religion. And it took like, 100 pages to get into. But the ending WAS really good.
What other families should know
Educational value
Adult Written bylolaby April 9, 2008

Important topics

If you are an advocate of free thinking, this book is great for you; otherwise, you're better off reading something safer. The concept of blind faith is examined closely, and Crutcher is careful to state that fundamentalists are in no way evil. Some important topics in this book are: death, faith, peer pressure, disabilities and censorship.

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