Two brothers. One cartoon dog. And a load of trouble.
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.
Starting out this book you'd expect from the title for some horror and gore (and if i'm honest I did but doesn't mean I was disappointed that it wasn't a zombie gore fest, lol). I was sent a review copy of Dave Cousin's book in a way because of Dave himself and the wonder that is Twitter and I'm glad I got one ahead of release so I can yelp about how fab it is beforehand. It's a funny and warm story about a boy and his dog…who happens to be his younger brother but that's beside the point. Laurence's mum up and disappears one day and seeing as he's been barely holding their lives together as it is having a missing mum is no easier than when she was just an absent mum. Laurence is the fall guy and is raising his brother, often doing his mum's work and trying to keep things together so the social services doesn't catch on and divide his family.
15 Days without a Head follows the two brothers trying to find their mum and avoid anyone realising that they are home alone. Reality is often more powerful than fiction so to have a contemporary story told in such a way that could very likely happen in most town's and larger cities makes it all the more interesting a read. Dave Cousins writes the tale of Laurence Roach and his younger brother Jay who have an uncommon life where they are not only having to survive from day to day like any average teen and 6 year old but they have to factor in an alcoholic mother who has flights of fancy that mean she is prone to emotional outbursts and personality switches like the changes of the wind. None of them are bad people at their core but find themselves in hard situations where life and other contributing factors like finance, alcohol and social services way heavy on their lives.
It tackles current issues that face a lot of families in these days and months of high unemployment and low incomes. It's a brave thing to do because Dave Cousins doesn't shy away from truth and how complex truth can be. You really hate Laurence and Jay's mum for the way she acts but she's had her own troubles and in her logic she's trying to help. However what would really help would be a nice meal that doesn't involve chips, toast or a chocolate bar. I loved the mix of characters in the boys lives and the strength of character in both Laurence and Jay. There is a fantastic bound between the two siblings and you really get that from the small things they do for each other like watching Scooby Doo or playing games together.
A gem of book that shows you a look at life that has truth and humour. Though it should come with a side order of greasy chips because that's all I fancied as I read it. With lots of ketchup.