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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?
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