Crutcher, Chris. The Sledding Hill. New York: Greenwillow, 2005.
I want to give Chris a high-five. This entire book is about thumbing his nose at the critics and book banners. There is so much stuff in here that people will find offensive that I imagine it will be banned left and right, even in places where his works were never banned before. Hopefully kids will still go out and buy it because it is so good. I believe he wrote this book in response to all of the school districts that have banned his works. Maybe a book like this will open a dialogue about the freedom to read, and the freedom of sharing ideas. I certainly hope so.
Poor Eddie Profitt finds his father dead and then a few weeks later he finds his best friend dead. This is all within the first few chapters of the book. The dead friend, Billy, narrates the book before he died, and then continues to do so as a spirit. As a spirit, he can be anywhere and know everything that is going on. (the book banners will hate that a spirit is narrating the book!)
Eddie starts high school and is no longer speaking. His holy roller mother wants him to find Jesus, but he has no desire to find him. She starts inviting the Preacher over, Tarter, and they are trying to convince him to be Baptized. Tarter is also a teacher at the school where he has been making students miserable for years. Eddie is in a Modern Lit class with the school librarian, and they all have to read a Chris Crutcher novel, Warren Peece. Well, the religious fundamental people start to try to ban the book. They also control the school board, so the Chris Crutcher books don't stand a chance. Eddie plays a pivotal role in the whole ordeal, but I won't go into any further detail on that. You will have to read about it to see what happens.
I enjoyed this book so much. Whoever heard of an author becoming a character in their own book? It's awesome! I have to say that anyone that is unfamiliar with Crutcher's work will not fully understand where this book is coming from. Crutcher is frequently banned because he writes about real things, real problems, and it is all very true to life. But, people don't like reality sometimes, and they think that reading about something will make a teen go out and do the things they read about. Anyone who has read Crutcher knows that he writes with some curses (where they are appropriate, not gratuitously), and he writes about the way things really are. So anyone that has read his previous novels will understand this book. Certainly others will enjoy this book, too, but fans of Crutcher will get a little added enjoyment from it.
GO READ THIS BOOK NOW.