Dane Washington is one suspension away from expulsion. In a high school full of “haves,” being a “have not” makes Dane feel like life is hurtling toward one big dead end. Billy D. spends his high school days in Special Ed and he’s not exactly a “have” himself. The biggest thing Billy’s missing? His dad. Billy is sure the riddles his father left in an atlas are really clues to finding him again and through a bizarre turn of events, he talks Dane into joining him on the search.
A bully and a boy with Down
syndrome makes for an unlikely friendship, but together, they work
through the clues, leading to unmarked towns and secrets of the past.
But they’re all dead ends. Until the final clue . . . and a secret Billy
shouldn’t have been keeping.
As a journalist, Erin Jade Lange is
inspired by hot button issues like bullying, but it is her honest
characters and breakneck plotting that make Dead Ends a must-read.
Dead Ends is Erin Jade Lange's sophomore novel. Her first book was Butter, which I loved, and I loved this book as well. It had great characterization and a gripping storyline. I enjoyed this entire read.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD
This book is told from the 1st person perspective of Dane, a bully who doesn't sometimes even seem to realize that he's a bully. He often gets detentions and suspensions for beating other boys up at school, but he always thinks that he's justified in beating them up since they provoked him in some way. Later in the book, he realizes that sometimes he's beaten up people who haven't done anything to him at all. Dane feels like he's the only teenager who doesn't have a car, and he thinks he could have one if his mom cashed her lottery tickets in instead of saving them all on the wall. Despite the fact that he gets fed up with this, he still has a good relationship with his mother. She got pregnant with him in high school, and she's raised him since then. His dad has never been involved in his life, and Dane doesn't even know his dad's name.
Billy is a good character as well. He is a boy with Down Syndrome, and he becomes friends with Dane. He wants Dane to teach him how to fight, and he wants to find his dad. He tells Dane all about his dad, making him out to be a great guy. It turns out that he's been keeping a secret about his dad. His dad is not such a great guy. Billy is good at manipulating Dane to do what he wants. Dane knows that if he does whatever Billy wants, he won't get kicked out of school. Billy uses this against Dane whenever he needs to. He is sure that he can find his dad by solving some clues in an atlas. These clues give the names to towns, and Billy thinks his dad is in one of those towns.
Another one of the characters in this book is Seely. She is a tomboyish girl who loves to skateboard and knows a lot about cars. She has two dads, and neither of the boys in this book have a dad. She is in the opposite situation as them. She helps Dane and Billy in their search for Billy's dad. There is a bit of a start of a romance between Seely and Dane. He kisses her after he realizes that he's started to like her. She and Dane make a good couple. At first, Dane is hesitant to be with her because he thinks Billy might like her. He makes sure Billy is okay with him and Seely dating before he kisses her.
If you like YA contemporary, read this book.