My very first day at the Montessori school where I attended Primary through 4th grade, as we were lining up to go inside after recess, a girl jumped in front of me in line. As if that wasn’t insult enough, she brought along her friend, not even saying excuse me! I, being 5, was QUITE put out, as I am certain you could guess, and I proceeded to shove her, quite forcefully, out of line.
Later that day I was called into the office of the headmaster, Mr. Chami. After I was seated I was given a talk about school rules and as is usual for our Montessori school, I was asked to explain my motives for pushing this girl, who will remain unnamed to protect the innocent, out of line.
My answer to this question was, “She butted and I didn’t like that so I shoved her out of line.”
He asked me to not do it again, even if she had butted, because we were all going to the same place.
I then replied, “The shoving will continue until the butting stops,” and sat until I was dismissed.
In this way I can sympathize with the main character of Erin Jade Lange’s novel Dead Ends, Dane, for violently solving problems that might otherwise stay unsolved and for seeking justice where it might never be found.
Dane Washington goes to Twain High School, he doesn’t know who his dad is, and usually goes to the principal’s office multiple times a month for detentions. Also, whenever he is mad he gets an itch in his palms that doesn’t go away until he hits something (Doesn’t that just sound like fun?)
One day, as he is walking to school, he realizes that he has a kid following him. Dane tries everything to get rid of this kid, jumping flower bushes, going between yards, crossing streets, but the kid just keeps following him.
Once at school Dane confronts the stalker, only to realize that the kid following him as Down’s Syndrome, is named Billy D, is in Dane’s grade, and was following him to get out of getting beat up by other bullies. When they walk into school together the principal calls them into his office and appoints Dane as the guide of Billy D, because Billy D just moved to Dane’s neighborhood.
This soon turns into an unlikely friendship, where Dane’s secrets are slowly unraveled as he becomes a friend and champion, and the quest to find Billy D’s dad commences.
Erin Jade Lange did an AMAZING job on this book. I liked the story line, the mystery of the Atlas, and all of the riddles to try and find Billy’s dad. It has funny snark, humor, and action (without being over the top). It has riddles and mystery and a touching friendship between two unlikely teens. Written in first person, from Dane’s perspective, there is a toughness to the voice, but also a gentleness and a quest for right and justice. It’s a keeper.
Because They Said So (what your parents might say): There are some violent fight scenes but there is no death. There are some sexy mentions (though not actual HAPPENINGS) and there is quite a bit of bad language but it is written from a teen boy’s point of view, so it isn’t surprising or inappropriate. Reading humor is of average level and is easily understandable. I’d say 12 and up are good to go on this.