Book Review,  Reviews

Dead Ends – Erin Lange

“I had a foot on some guy’s throat and a hand in my pocket the first time I saw Billy D. He was standing across the street, staring – not even trying to be sly about it – just staring without a word, without even blinking.

‘What you lookin’ at?’ I called. 
His mouth fell open in a silent little O, but he didn’t respond. He didn’t leave either, just kept on staring.”

When Billy D moves in over the road Dane just hopes he’ll stay away from him. Dane doesn’t do people very well and often they end up on the receiving end of his fist when they don’t leave him alone. But he has standards, and standards include not hitting people like Billy D; people in special ed. Whilst Dane keeps being sent to the office for his misdemeanours Billy D actually likes hanging out with the teachers there and one day the warden comes up with an idea to help get Dane out of trouble; if he looks after Billy D he will keep his slate clean. With that the boys soon discover both of their fathers are missing and Billy’s idea of helping him includes tracking down his dad. Can the pair suck up their differences and work together on this powerful journey to find out who they are without their dads.

Oh wow, I had heard incredible things about this author but I didn’t realise just how great Erin Lange was until I finished the last page of this book. A powerful coming of age story like no other; Dead Ends is a must read for anyone who wants their heart strings pulled. 

The two boys are so different and you are not meant to like Dane, he is a bully and a thug and its only his grades that have stopped him from being packed off to the alternative school where most of the kids in his neighbourhood have ended up, on the days they go to school. Billy has just moved and he wants to stop moving, unless his father is at the next place him and his mum move to. Dane doesn’t know his dad and claims he doesn’t want to but Billy D assumes he does and puts pressure on him to look.The story is heartbreaking as you find out more about the two boys and their background but Dane’s doesn’t sound so bad compared to Billy’s, not all the time anyway.  Dane and Billy’s friendship is what stands in the foreground of this book but there is so much hidden in the background, Billy helps Dane find out who he truly is, that he can be a friend and not a bully and that punching someone is not always the answer to your problems. 

The characterisation was wonderful and I loved how the two boys worked so well. Dane’s voice as the narrator was fantastic and his attitude was definitely prevalent. He was an angry guy and that seeped through the pages, but with it was the idea that he thought his anger was deserved, it was so sad to read in places. That really hit home with one particular incident and I found that one scene absolutely heartbreaking. Billy D was such a strong character and I found him so interesting, the way he always thought he was doing the right thing and his logic, wow, his logic was absolutely mind boggling sometimes, but you couldn’t argue against it most of the time! 

The other side characters were incredible and I loved that the story showed other friendships too, like the boys’ mothers and them finding Seely. I loved what developed between Seely and Dane and what kind of effect that had on the story. Dane’s mum in particular came across as such an incredible character because of how much she cared for her son and how much she powered on through regardless. I liked that she had her faults and I liked that she was herself no matter what, I really hope that big ticket it still framed after the end of the story! 

The story will stick with me for a long, long time and I really think it will most people. the situations the boys find themselves in, the problems they face and the things they learn from their experiences make for such a beautiful story. It had me racing through my emotions faster than any other, going from happy to sad to angry and back again in a mere few sentences. Sometimes I could be laughing and hurting at the same time reading it, but that just goes to show how incredible a story it is! 

Dead Ends will be published on 6th February 2014 by Faber and Faber. My copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

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