Title: Dead Ends
Author: Erin Lange
Genre: YA contemporary
Length: 336 pages
Published by: Allen and Unwin
Source: received in exchange for review (thanks, Allen and Unwin!)
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.
There were two reasons I requested this book.
1) I’d heard a lot about Butter by the same author, and it struck me as an incredibly awesome premise for a book. I even used it for a Top Ten Tuesday despite the fact that I haven’t read it. The other day I actually did buy it from the Book Depository, which is exciting!
2) Cait from Notebook Sisters reviewed it, and I loved the sound of it. I hadn’t actually heard of it before then. Trust me, guys. You want to hear about this book.
Anyway, both those things told me that this wasn’t a book to miss out on. I became positively Mr-Burns-Like in anticipation of reading it.
Because Allen and Unwin is amazing, they send me this beautiful book. And now I can tell you guys how much it rocked.
First of all, diversity.
Diversity is one of the BIGGEST things I want to see more of in YA books. It seems like everyone is white in books, and middle class, and in a love triangle, and hates their parents. Not so with Dead Ends. Our main character Dane is a bully – you’d think that would make him unlikeable, and I suppose some of the things he does are not nice, but Erin Lange writes so well I learnt to understand his flaws. Plus!!! Male POV!!! That doesn’t happen often!
Then there’s Billy D, the boy with Down syndrome.
And finally there’s Seely, who rides a skateboard and isn’t the stereotypical type of beautiful, and has two dads.
Yay diversity. I was worried about how the author would portray Billy D, because it’s something really tough to get right. But she did a fantastic job. Dane doesn’t pity Billy – he talks to him as he would talk to everybody else. He’s protective of him, like a friend is, and the dynamic between them is one of the strongest I’ve ever read. Billy D wasn’t a character there simple to represent a minority, either – he has his own motivations and you get to see that towards the end of the book (if you read it you’ll definitely know what I’m talking about!
I wish Seely could have come on the road trip, though. That would have been cool.
The plot was also great! It was really unique in the search for both their fathers, and really funny too. There are lots of WEIRD towns in the world. These ones are from America – I’d love to see an Australian one (for instance, we have a place called Tittybong. No joke. #straya).
I am now eagerly anticipating the arrival of Butter. It’s paperback unlike my copy of Dead Ends, which is hardback, but I don’t mind. They’re both nice bright colours, which I love.
If you want to read something with diversity and a great plot and fantastic characters, this is one for you.
Rating: 5/5 Wonderkitties