Created: Jun • 2014

Description

'People shouldn't treat you different just because you're - whatever - challenged or something.' 'You treated me different.' 'What? No I didn't.' 'Yeah, you said you wouldn't beat me up - because of how I look, right?' 'A touching coming-of-age-story with the humour of The Fault in Our Stars and the poignancy of Wonder.' We Love This Book
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Comments (4)

  • Y. Nirvana
    4 years agoReply
    2 Likes
    Dane is a bully and angry at the world, a world in which violence is justified if people are “asking for it”, the only exception to the rule being girls and “retards”. He is one step away from facing expulsion and, desperate to avoid this, he reluctantly agrees to act as an “ambassador” for Billy D, the new kid who has Down Syndrome. Billy D, however, is not a flawless victim, just as Dane is not as hard hearted as he tries to make out he is. To avoid being exiled to the alternative high school, Dane must help Billy D with everything he asks of and finds himself roped into helping Billy D find his father by solving the riddles left in an Atlas. But the boys discover that this will not be an easy road to navigate and results in plenty of dead ends.

    On the whole I liked how Lange was able to touch on sensitive and perhaps taboo subjects faced by many teenagers without sugar-coated such issues. Instead, she covers them in a quite a humorous and brutally honest way. However, I felt frustrated that the character development was set up in the clichéd ideal that Billy’s “differentness” is what makes Dane reconsider his bullying tactics and, ultimately, become a better person. I also felt that the character Seely was flat and underdeveloped. I didn’t understand the necessity of her being the daughter of two gay men, especially as the reader never meets them. It seemed to me that Seely was simply used as a tool to fulfil the role as the love interest/car driver and to tick off Lange’s list of stereotypes to overcome.

    ‘Dead Ends’ does have some humorous dialogue but, to me, Lange seemed to be trying too hard to imitate the writing style of John Green, of which she is being compared to. Unfortunately, the anticipation built up as the quest went on fell flat, resulting in a disappointing ending. ‘Dead Ends’ is a quick, light-hearted read, but if you, like me, prefer characters with greater depth and a plot with deeper meaning, then perhaps this is not the book for you.
  • nickandallhisthings
    2 Likes
    This book is beautiful. I don't normally read social realism, and the closest book that I've read to this is probably Wonder, the book on the 2013 Carnegie shortlist - but this blew Wonder out of the water.

    We follow the narrative of Dane Washington, a teenager with violent tendencies who becomes an unwilling chaperone when Billy, a child with Down syndrome, moves in across the road. We follow watching them grow and develop into amazingly crafted characters with tricky and subtle lives.

    If you tend to shy away from the harsh realities and like to tiptoe around awkward topics then this is not the book for you. Erin Lange pulls no punches when she pours out genius onto the pages, and the book is riddled with themes and characters which the faint-hearted may shy from. She has no trouble referring to retards, and challenges stereotypes of homosexuals, bullies, victims and of course, those with Down syndrome.

    The character of Dane is multifaceted, slightly hypocritical and clear as mud. In short, he is human. It is all too easy to think of characters as just that, characters, but Erin Lange will challenge your perception and dare you to think outside the box. Billy D. will shock and surprise you as he redefines your ideas of the mentally disabled, and together they will alter your ideas about life.

    Dane and Billy travel and grow, always changing on the rollercoaster of a plot that Erin has in store for you. Helped along by a menagerie of side characters, the pace is fast and slippery as a fish. Just as you think you have a hold on it and you think you know what'll happen next, she'll knock you onto your back and fight free, doing something completely different.

    The ending was heart-shattering, and on of the few book endings I was truly saddened by (top of the list being HP6). Were it not for my outstanding manliness(jk) I have no doubt that I would have shed many a tear.
  • GeorgiaT
    4 years agoReply
    1 Like
    ‘Dead Ends’ by Erin Lange is a story about friendship, family and fathers. My alliteration skills astound even me. It might be suggested that Dane, Seely and Billy D are an unlikely friendship group because they are all so individual; The school fighter, the rock chick and the kid with Downs syndrome. But I think that that is a very 2-dimentional view of them as characters. Lange builds people not characters.
    Billy D and Dane are brought together, essentially, because they live next door to each other. Thrown together by proximity, they become friends at first because they each have something the other wants and they stay friends because of their fathers.

    Both of their dads are MIA, while their useful friend Seely has two. While we don’t ever meet Seely’s parents, Lange introduces a subtle discussion of same sex parenting. While other authors might have used Seely’s “struggle” on how she deals with other people’s views of her having two dads. Lange actually uses Dane as society’s mirror; he struggles at first with how to react. He teased Seely to cover up how uncomfortable he was, but eventually he realises the fact that while she has two dads, he and Billy D don’t have one between them and he cannot begrudge anyone that kind of luck. Dads are important, even the missing ones.

    Seely often seems weak to me. Even though Lange has said that she was her favourite character to write. She is definitely a minor character and shows up at appropriate moments to supply a place to hang out/ a car/; a double helping of pseudo father figures. She is unique and clever, sassy and “different” from the other girls at school. I didn’t see her as a “strong” female character; I just thought she was a girl – a useful plot device that just happened to be female. I think she easily could have been a boy, but I expect Lange would be accused of the story being overly male centric.

    The true strong female characters are Dane and Billy D’s mothers. Feircly protective, hardworking, single, fighters. I read them both as incredibly nuanced and brilliant women. I love that they both had flaws, a quick temper or a secretive nature. It was because of this that they became the most realistic of the characters. Lange can write strong female characters, but it seems, only if she’s not trying and just stumbles on accurate and poignant, normal women.

    The comparison to John Green probably comes from the quirk. From riddles and treasure hunts to famous last words, from okay? Okay, to ‘it’s a metaphor’, John Green always has an underlying quirk to his writing. ‘Dead Ends’’ quirk is the funny place names and the riddle/test that Billy D’s dad apparently left for him. ‘Dead Ends’ is a maze and Billy D and Dean are looking for something: Where is Billy D’s dad, why did he leave, who is Dean’s and why are Billy and Dean who they are? So many questions and Lange answers them all.