Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Keywords: coming of age, disabilities, road trip
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley
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Epic Reads recently put together a list of books that change your view of the world. This was one for me. The characters in this book were so unlike anything I've ever experienced in my life, and their experiences and lives were so different from mine, and it opened my worldview that much more.
The main story revolves around Dane, a kid who turns to fighting as a form of defense and is seen, more often than not, as a bully. He's constantly getting in trouble and getting suspensions and detentions. He is raised by his mother, never knowing who his father is, and the two struggle through money problems. When Dane gets in trouble yet again, it's almost the end for him, but Billy D, a student with Down Syndrome, worms his way into the conversation and manages to keep Dane at school, provided Dane assists Billy D with whatever he needs. And Billy D wants help finding his missing father.
I blended in in high school. I was heavily involved in our theatre program, and my school was award-winning for performance arts. There wasn't really a ton of bullying in my corner of school. People mostly left us alone. So I was neither popular nor unpopular. I've also never known anyone with Down Syndrome. I didn't know about some episodes they can have or how highly functioning people with Down Syndrome can be. So this is what I mean in saying the book really opened up another whole world that I just really didn't know anything about. Both of these characters were strong, too, and their personalities shone through expertly, and their stories were so realistic.
Watching them work through their own issues and help each other get through them was what made the book really special to me. They were so drastically different but ended up helping one another in multiple aspects of their lives. This was just a really powerful story overall about loss, discovery, and going after what you want.
Read When: You want something to think about. It's not a light pool read, but it's definitely worth your time.