Thursday 29 September 2011

15 Days Without A Head by Dave Cousins

 Pages - 272
Published by Oxford University Press in 2012

'The front door slams. Mum's back.
It sounds like a dead body hitting the ground as she dumps her stuff in the hall and goes straight to the kitchen. I head the thud of a bottle on the table, the crack of the cap, then the slow glug as liquid spills into a  glass. 
Mum coughs, drags a chair across the floor and sits down.
The smell of cigaretted smoke drifts into the front room, where me and Jay are being quiet. Keeping out of the way until Happy Hour - when the first drink has worked its magic and made her smile again.'

Amazon Summary
Fifteen-year-old Laurence Roach just wants a normal life, but it's not easy when your mum is a depressed alcoholic, and your six-year-old brother thinks he's a dog. When Mum fails to come home one night, Laurence tells nobody, terrified he and his brother will be taken into care if anyone finds out. Instead, he attempts to keep up the pretence that Mum is still around: dressing up in her clothes to trick the neighbours and spinning an increasingly complicated tangle of lies. After two weeks on their own, running out of food and money, and with suspicious adults closing in, Laurence finally discovers what happened to his mother. And that's when the trouble really starts . . . A compelling thriller filled with some hilarious and surreal moments. Fifteen Days Without a Head is a tender, honest story about family, forgiveness and hope.


On finishing this book, the first question that came to mind was - where the hell has Dave Cousins been hiding?  

This book is fantastic. I loved it from the first word until the last. In fact this book really took me by surprise, because when I first heard about it, I really wasn't sure it would be one for me. How wrong was I? This book made me feel so comfortable and right at home as soon as I entered the Roach household. The story was refreshing and original and kept me entranced all the way through. I found that the  author's writing just sucked me into the story until I felt like an invisible member of the Roach family. 

The story is written in first person from the point of view of Laurence Roach, a lovely teenage boy who is struggling to help his mother with her alcohol addiction and depression. A few pages into the book, she goes AWOL. She had obviously reached the point of no return and disappears without a forwarding address from Laurence's life; leaving him hungry, penniless and in charge of his mischievous little brother, Jay, who has that innocence about him until you upset him  and his feral side is let loose, which will result in a nasty bite! 

This book will play with your emotions. One minute you will be laughing, before tears of sadness sneak up behind you and take your breath away. I honestly didn't know what to expect next as Laurence battled with everyone and everything around him in order to stay at home. I would like to say the ending was magical and happy, but this story is about real life and no one lives like that. 

This is one of the best contemporary novels I have read this year. I would put it up there with My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece.  I want to put this book in every teenager's hand and make them read it, especially the ones who whinge about how their lives suck! Pah! They know nothing. 

I really want to see this made into a TV drama on the BBC! I could just envisage it playing on the screen as I read it. 

My only worry is whether or not Dave Cousins will be able to follow up such a fantastic book. I really hope so! 


  1. Oh, I have to read this ASAP! I started it, and it was amazing. Great review!

  2. It was awesome. I have fallen in love with this book.

  3. That does sound fantastic! What's sad is there are many children who live like Laurence.

  4. So glad to hear this was a winner as i loved the cover, that little scottie/westie in the corner is so sweet.

  5. 15 Days without A Head sounds like a fantastic novel and I would love to read it some day. My only worry is that the ending will be too sad.

  6. Jenni - I have gushed a bit, me thinks.

    Susan - thank you!

    Bermudaonion - so true. It is heartbreaking.

    Petty Witter _ I can't think why there is a Scottie dog in the cover. It might be because the little one likes to pretend to be a dog. But that is normally Scooby!

    Mari the ending isn't sad, it is just real. Not all sparkles and glitter.

  7. Weird title, lol.

    Oh if you wanna see it on BBC then I am sure I would want that too, and to read it of course


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