Author: Erin Jade Lange
Published: February 6th 2014
Publisher: Faber Children's
Format: Hardback, 384 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
Dane Washington and Billy D. couldn't be more different. Dane is clever and popular, but he's also a violent rebel. Billy D. has Down's syndrome, plays by the rules and hangs out with teachers in his lunch break.But Dane and Billy have more in common than they think - both their fathers are missing.They're going to have to suck up their differences and get on with helping each other. There are answers to be found.Powerful, funny, moving - the ultimate coming-of-age novel.
Dead Ends is a simple yet wonderful tale about an unlikely friendship between two young boys, both of them social outcasts. Dane is a bully, raised by a very young single mom and angry at the world. He has no idea who his father is, and his mother, although otherwise great, refuses to divulge his identity. Dane takes out his anger on anyone who dares to look at him the wrong way, until Billy D. comes along.
Billy D. has Down syndrome. He is highly functional and pretty healthy, all things considered, but he's far from being a regular kid. He sees Dane as someone strong enough to keep him safe from all those who enjoy "hitting a retard". Being intelligent and aware of his situation makes him pretty manipulative so he somehow manages to blackmail Dane into helping him.
The last thing Dane wants to do is to get involved, but with the expulsion from school looming over his head, his choices are limited at best. He even lets himself be blackmailed into helping Billy D. locate his estranged father, which forces Dane to think about finding his own missing dad. Despite how it may seem, a friendship born from mutual understanding is inevitable between these boys. Lange doesn't try to portray either of them in a better light, but as they learn things about each other, they also discover things about themselves, partly flaws they'd rather not see, but also qualities they didn't even know they possessed. Of course their journey ends up being painful and full of unwanted revelations, but it also gives them something neither of them has ever had before - a true friend.
There isn't much I can say about the plot for fear of spoiling it, but I will say this: Dead Ends is a beautifully written, poignant story that deserves far more attention than what it's been getting. I vote that we try to change that. It's what we do, after all.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.