Ashe was born on May 17, 1951, and is a senior in high school during the year he decides to describe in haiku, liking the tidiness of the three-line, 17-syllable form. The year is 1968, when more soldiers died in the Vietnam War than in any other year. Ashe decides not only to write haiku, but to dedicate a syllable to each soldier killed—976 haiku equals 16,592 syllables equals the number of soldiers killed in 1968. An entire story “contained by a syllable count.” Not only is that asking a lot of its diminutive form, but so much happened in 1968: the war, race riots, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, let alone Ashe’s family life, which resembles a war zone. Haiku stanzas just can’t contain it all, being ill equipped for the depth or context necessary for a rich historical novel. But what transcends contrivance and gimmickry is Ashe’s voice, and haiku are well-suited to carry that. With newspaper headlines, death tolls, and overwhelming world, national and domestic events in the background, one boy’s clear and earnest voice records his life:
write what needs to be
remembered and leave it to
you to fill in the gaps.
Summary taken from Kirkus
Praise For The Book
Ashe is just one among thousands—one story, one life—but in focusing so closely on him, his loved ones, his motivations and struggles as well as theirs, it makes the fact that each one of the syllables in the book represents another boy, another family, another life, that much more powerful.
Library Director, Kirkus Review
Chris Crowe entertains, moves, challenges and stirs complex thinking. War, language, marriage, family, racism, history and humanity are explored through Haiku-like poetry.
Writer, Deseret News
Through simple yet powerful words, Crowe expertly reveals life in 1968…Teens wil be drawn to what it is like to be living an everyday existence during wartime.