Dead Ends by Erin Jade Lange

dead ends

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  328

RAC:  Yes

Dane is a bully who is a mere few strikes away from expulsion, but he still can’t seem to keep his fists under control.  One day he notices a boy with Down Syndrome following him to school and he decides to put him in his place, but surprisingly the boy immediately has an effect on him.  His name is Billy D and he is Dane’s new neighbor.  Billy D wants Dane to teach him how to fight and find his father and in return he will tell the Warden at school how much Dane is helping him navigate the new building and protecting him from other bullies.  As Dane walks Billy D to and from school everyday they start to become friends and Dane helps Billy D solve the clues his father left for him in an old atlas.  Billy D is sure that the clues will lead to his father’s location, but Dane is starting to grow concerned that this path to Billy’s father might end with him getting hurt in some way.  Can Dane help Billy D long enough to avoid expulsion?  Can Billy D solve the clues and do those clues lead to his father?  What is the reason why he does not know where his father is?

Dane and Billy’s unlikely friendship pulls readers in as they try to follow the clues left by Billy’s dad.  You can’t help but want to know about Billy’s backstory and all the things he doesn’t want to tell Dane about.  Meanwhile, Dane is dealing with a single mom, an absent dad, and unexplainable rage issues.  Can these two find a way to help each other grow?  The characters are incredibly complex and sympathetic which fuels the entire story.  Recommended for reluctant readers.

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