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15 Days Without A Head by Dave Cousins

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Teenage Book of the Month

15 Days Without A Head by Dave Cousins
Published by Oxford University Press, 2012

Laurence Roache is a fifteen year old boy with a lot on his plate, an alcoholic mother who can’t cope with life and a six year old brother who has behavioural problems. Things can’t possibly be any worse but when his mother goes missing, Laurence must assume the role of parent. He must look after his brother Jay all the while pretending that everything is normal for fear they will be taken into care. He even goes as far as dressing up as his mother in an effort to fool the neighbours.

He’s got to feed himself and his little brother on what little money he can find in the house and making it to school each day becomes more and more difficult.

A lighter parallel strand runs through the story when Laurence tries to win a holiday through a phone-in radio competition and succeeds.

After a catalogue of catastrophes and getting Mum back Laurence and Jay are coping with one day at a time just like their Mum at the end of the book.

If you are looking for a story with a happy ending you will not find it but it does become a story of hope at the end. Thought provoking it certainly is and inspiring, that someone so young can be so capable but even though it’s funny in places it is first and foremost a story of struggling against the odds.

It is also an excellent read.

The last pages of the book carry a list of organisations that offer confidential advice for anyone seeking help for themselves, friends or family and to quote from these pages, “Life may have been a lot easier for Laurence, had he known about them.”