Author: Erin Jade Lange
Publication Date: September 3rd 2013
Book: For Review*
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Coming-of-Age
Summary: 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. -from goodreadsDead Ends was a witty, entertaining and heart-warming tale that I enjoyed even more than the author’s debut novel; Butter. While Butter was received w critical acclaim, and although I found it enjoyable and thought-provoking, Dead Ends made me understand why Erin Jade Lange has been likened to John Green and R.J Palacio. The tone of the book was light and humorous, the author still managed to maintain the tension and seriousness of the book.
There were too main characters in the book: Billy D, “special ed” although according to him he’s not. And Dane, the resident ‘Bully’ of the school and area, who doesn’t even realize that’s what he is until someone points it out to him. All he thinks is that he has to satisfy the ‘itch’ he gets in his palms and to do that he has to punch someone, so why not pick a person who has just annoyed him? Yes, it might have been something minor, but still. The itch calls. I loved both the two characters, Dane probably the most as he made the most growth and development throughout the course of the story. Sixteen, one of the only teenagers his age without a car, living at home with a single mum and a hoard of winning lottery tickets stuck into frames on the kitchen wall he ploughed through life with one thought – get a car, then maybe his life would be better. And until then, all he could do was ‘try’ and stay out of trouble so he wouldn’t get kicked out of school while obeying his ‘itch’ at the same time, and navigate the path of life, one step at a time. He had no aim or purpose (other than to own a car) and this made him, in a way, depressed. He didn’t have many friends at all because everyone was scared of him, and he had the constant ache in his mind that his life could be so much better if his mum just cashed in the lottery tickets she had won with instead of displaying them in frames in the house; which she refused to do.
So until he met Billy D He wandered aimlessly around doing, pretty much nothing. And then enter Billy D. His first meeting with him lasted about a second, but gradually turned into a something longer-lasting and stronger than he had ever had before. Billy D was such a genuine character you couldn’t help but like him, with his atlas that he lugged around everywhere, his persistency, his proneness to blackmailing without really knowing that was what he was doing, and his ability to soften Dane, to end with the last word, to make Dane think, really think about who he was and why he did things.
The ending was bitter sweet; it left a tangy taste in my mouth, sadness and happiness mixed together along with one other feeling, disappointment. Not with the story itself, but with the language. Anyone who knows me will know that I am not a fan of swearing. No matter who the author is trying to portray, I do not believe that making them swear is the answer to their problem of how to bring across their violence//rough personality//character. When I come across a book where the author managers to depict a ‘troubled/angsty/violent character perfectly without using a single swear word, that author gains my respect. Because yes, the first thing you think when you imagine someone who is likely to go to juvie, who beats up people and thinks nothing of it, is that they swear. It’s a stereotypical trait that’s associated with them. But there are so many other ways to bring their personality across that I feel there is never any need to use swear words.
Overall, Dead Ends was an enjoyable read that I will probably pick up again when I’m in need of a fun book that’s not too heavy (but isn’t all airy-fairy nonsense either!) although, I did think the language used in the book was unnecessary. However, I have read so many other books with an even more extreme amount of swearing that this was tame in comparison! My rating: ★★★★