Dead Ends

Erin Jade Lange, Author
Erin Jade Lange. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-61963-080-2
Reviewed on: 07/29/2013
Release date: 09/03/2013
Hardcover - 370 pages - 978-0-571-30882-8
Paperback - 370 pages - 978-0-571-30829-3
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Lange (Butter) explores the friendship that forms between a rage-filled 16-year-old named Dane and his new neighbor, Billy D., who has Down syndrome. Although Dane is a bully, he draws the line at picking on the disabled (“Standards, y’know?”), and when he’s offered a chance to avoid suspension by helping Billy out, he accepts it reluctantly. The boys bond over their missing fathers—Dane doesn’t know who his is, and Billy’s mother kicked his father out and moved across the country—and decide, with help from neighborhood skate punk Seely, to track down Billy’s father. Their investigation leads to road trips and revelations about their pasts. With confident storytelling, Lange ably develops Dane’s romance with Seely and his friendship with Billy, but a few details sour the story a bit. A subplot in which Dane’s working-class mother regularly wins the lottery (but refuses to cash her tickets) shouts of middle-class privilege; worse, Billy essentially exists to give Dane the epiphany he needs. The core story should keep readers interested if they can overlook those problems. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Sept.)
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