The Sledding Hill

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Sledding Hill Book Poster Image
Ghost boy tells the story of a book-banning.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

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

Positive Role Models & Representations

Eddie is a good kid who's grieving the loss of his best friend, Billy, and fights to keep a book from being banned at his school. Billy, the ghost narrator, is a good friend to Eddie. Eddie's mother falls under the sway of a fundamentalist religious group. The leader of the group is the story's villain. Author Chris Crutcher inserts himself into the story as author of a book the reverend wants to ban, so in that sense his character stands in opposition to censorship. There's an abusive parent. Religious zealots are painted in a bad light. 

Violence

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

Sex

Masturbation and abortion mentioned. A gay character comes out.

Language

References to curse words, but none actually used.

Consumerism

Newman popcorn mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Sledding Hill, by Chris Crutcher, deals with the death of a parent and a best friend, racism, the separation of church and state, religious zealots, and book censorship in schools. It's narrated by the ghost of a boy who died in an accident.

Wondering if The Sledding Hill is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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 e... Continue reading
Adult Written byhunter85 November 24, 2011

Review, good

The book was a good read. It really got into the issue of death of family and friends, dealing with it, and trying to do what you think is right. It does posses... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byFrostbite_the_L... May 14, 2019
Kind of good but kind of not, some teens can make a connection but others cant, in the first chapters two people died in the same month.
Teen, 13 years old Written bySilver_Galexy May 14, 2019

It's an okay book...

I think it's a great book. Just a little bit too much death. With in the first two chapters two main characters are dead. The narrator included.

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's also the narrator of the story. His mother is being drawn further in to a fundamentalist church, led by Reverend Tarter, who's also an English teacher at Eddie's school and is trying to manipulate Eddie into joining the saved, while working with his congregation to get a book banned at school. That book, Warren Peece, is a made-up 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 to take down the reverend at the same time.

Is it any good?

This story of a book-banning makes a provocative case for freedom, but sometimes the characters seem to act as the author's mouthpiece. The Sledding Hill is a diatribe cloaked in humor, a mostly enjoyable read that addresses a compelling issue in a way that will get kids talking.

In real life, Chris Crutcher's books have been the target of censorship efforts, and here he takes on would-be book-banners directly by writing a book in which they will find no bad language, sex acts, or violence, but the content is designed to be objectionable to them anyway. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about censorship in The Sledding Hill. Is it ever right to ban a book? Should there be any restrictions on what children read?  

  • Does religion have a place in school? Where do the rights of the individual and family begin and end?

  • What did you think of the author putting himself in his own novel? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love ghost stories and coming-of-age novels

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate