A riddle rarely makes sense the first time you hear it. The connection between Dane and Billy D doesn't make sense any time you hear it. But it's a collection of riddles that brings these two unlikely friends together.
Dane Washington lives by two rules: don't hit girls and don't hit special kids. Billy D has Down syndrome and thinks a fierce boy who won't hit him could come in useful. Billy D has a puzzle to solve, after all, and he has the perfect plan to make Dane help him.
Billy is sure the riddles in his atlas are really clues left by his missing dad. Together, Billy and Dane must embark on an epic road trip, although most of the clues lead to dead ends. What Dane doesn't realize is that Billy D isn't as innocent as he seems and the biggest secret is hidden close to home...
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Faber & Faber (6 Feb 2014)
*sigh* I just don't know what to say! This story is beautiful, fierce, heart-breaking and brutally honest. It managed to move me in ways I never thought possible and when it was all said and done, it changed a little piece of me deep down inside!
The unlikely friendship in here was something very special indeed. The two boys, Dane and Billy D, couldn't be more different if they tried:
Dane is a little hothead that thinks with his fists, but underneath he is such a vulnerable little thing who only lashes out in fear of looking weak or somebody else doing something to him first.
Billy D...not going to lie, he totally rocks, he makes me smile and even snort like an idiot. He has down syndrome, but that isn't really the point.
You see, Erin Lange has written something very special here, she makes the reader see past the differences in Billy D. We are a society of people who treat people with differences differently - Lange very easily lets us all know that differences are no big deal, we need to treat every body the same.
Dane and Billy D's worlds collide on a walk to school one morning. Billy D is being bullied in his new school and because Dane is a tough guy he thinks that if he walks with him everyone will leave him alone. The pair don't strike up an instant friendship, but I adored watching it develop into something unbreakable.
Both boys are missing a fatherly figure in their lives, Billy D's dad left recently and Dane never knew his. Billy wants to find his dad more than anything else and sort of....blackmails Dane into helping with the search.
I loved the epic and highly adventurous road trip, the bonkers map with the riddles but most of all I loved this beautiful journey. I sat riveted and in awe at this incredible adventure unfolding in front of my eyes.
The ending is truly amazing and had me a little sniffely to say the least. (I actually can't wait to read it all over again.)
Beautiful, bold and utterly fearless...I lost myself in it's beauty. Dead Ends is a story that will stick with the reader long after they close the book. We need more YA books like this - I loved it!!
My favourite quote:
'To Billy, it wasn't a dead end at all, it was just the beginning.'
A BIG 5 Stars!
*with special thanks to Faber & Faber children's books for the review copy*