Fifteen Days Without a Head
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Fifteen Days Without a Head

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  362 ratings  ·  94 reviews
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: dre...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 5th 2012 by OUP (Oxford University Press) (first published December 22nd 2011)
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Serendipity Reviews
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 th...more
The trouble begins when Laurence's mom disappears or runs away. We don't really know why she doesn't come home, and the hours turn into days. Laurence, the older brother, is left to care for his bratty baby brother. He misses school, scrounges for money for food, dodges neighbors, lies and searches for his mother, all while trying to win a vacation through a radio contest. It sure is convenient he has phone cards to use at the booth! Although all the focus is placed on Laurence and his brother's...more
Some books need to be read while you’re eating pickled onion Monster Munch and I think this is just one of those books.

Let me explain.

I find pickled onion Monster Munch e a very underrated crisp. They aren’t the coolest crisps on the shelf. Not everyone thinks of them instantly when they think of a delicious savoury snack. I mean, they don’t have Gary Lineker and Lionel Richie advertising them. They can’t be dipped in…um…dip. Or at least easily. I guess you would really have to want some dip to...more
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that I love a good contemporary novel. In particular I love those gritty contemporaries that British writers seem to have perfected. 15 Days Without a Head is no exception. Seriously, you need to read this book.

This was everything I’ve come to expect from a British contemporary; compelling, challenging and heartbreaking. Although the novel was in-your-face confronting, so much so that I felt overwhelmed with emotion at times, there were...more
Okay, wow. This book is kind of heartbreaking, but beautiful.

Life pretty much sucks for Laurence Roach. His dad died when he was young. His mother is nearly always drunk, with the violent mood swings that goes with. His little brother is both and adorable and unbearably obnoxious at the same time. Their family is strapped for cash and they live in a dump. He is often late for class because he has to take his little brother to school. And that is all before his mother goes missing.

No matter what...more
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. Lauren...more
Fifteen Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins was a book that my Mom forced me to read to stop me from looking at my computer, and I expected a dull, uninteresting and lame book. I also thought that it would be a book more filled with jokes than a serious subject, but I was proven wrong. Almost instantly after reading the first chapter, I fell in love with it. I read it for four hours straight until the very last word, and it blew me away. The story is told by Laurence Roach, a 15 year old boy who...more
Suzanne Lilly
Dark, gritty, tense, realistic. These are the words I choose to describe this debut novel by Dave Cousins. When a teen's alcoholic mom doesn't come home, he tries to take care of his six year-old brother and keep them together without raising the suspicions of neighbors or Social Services. On top of that, he meets a girl he likes, but with all that he's hiding, doesn't see how he can get to know her better. The challenges this young man faces, and the realistic portrayal of a life in despair, ma...more
I probably would have really liked this book when I was 14. At 45, it was... eh. I've read this story before in other books and there wasn't anything that really stood out for me in this telling of it- kids trying to survive on their own because their parents are gone, or dead, or just not fit to parent. It reminded me of the 1993 movie King of the Hill, only not quite as convincing. I wish they had developed the mother and the girlfriend's characters more. The little brother who thinks he's a d...more
IzamaRi H. Fabela
Como ya es costumbre, el sello Nube de Tinta nos hace entrega de una historia real, conmovedora y cruel que dejara pensando a más de a uno.

Estoy realmente sorprendida por la fresca narración del autor que me atrapo desde la primera palabra y no me soltó hasta que llegue a la última. Y a pesar de contarnos una historia cruel, es imposible no querer saber más de lo que pasa en la vida de estos dos hermanos.

– ¿Si esta noche tampoco hay comida, vamos a tener que ser caníbales y encontrar a alguien p...more
Andrew Carlson
Considering that I read the book in four sittings, the final 40+% last night, I'd say the book held my attention and interest throughout. The story was funny, then sad, then heartwarming. I could put myself in Laurence Laurence Roach's shoes and relate to his situation--not because it has happened to me, but because the story is well-told. All of that deserves 5 stars from me.

This is definitely a book to read. Bump it up on your TBR list and give it a go.
Ainun Nazrin
Ini salah sebuah buku yang aku tak menyesal beli walaupun murah (99p di Kindle Store).

Aku baru selesai membaca 'The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly' yang mengisahkan Sprout, seekor ayam telur yang berazam untuk menjadi ibu. Akhirnya Sprout berjaya menjadi ibu kepada seekor anak itik. Walaupun Sprout hanyalah 'ibu angkat' sahaja tapi Sprout menjaga anak itu dengan baik dan penuh kasih sayang.
Berbeza dengan Mags Roach dalam novel ini yang hanya tahu melahirkan anak tetapi FAIL menjadi ibu. Sudahlah...more
Some books you read and find entertaining. And some books you read and never forget. This one is one I will have in my mind for a long time.

Read my full review here:

Laurence and his brother, Jay, live with their alcoholic mother in a dingy apartment in England. Laurence constantly tries to make everything work - he wakes up his mother for work, gets food when she forgets, brings his brother to school, etc. When his mother doesn't come home from work he keeps trying to make it all work without anyone knowing she's gone. This book is the heartbreaking story of Laurence during the time his mother is gone.

I really liked this book. These kids are in a bad situat...more
I remember feeling this way about a debut novel almost exactly this time last year; really, genuinely excited about the discovery of a huge new talent in the YA world. When I felt this way last year it was about Phil Earle's Being Billy and this around, it's Dave Cousins' 15 Days Without a Head, which is absolute magic.

I devoured this novel over a couple of days, grabbing a few minutes here and there to read whenever I got a chance; on the way home from the event in London where I was given my c...more
Surely a fine book for teenagers – I am looking forward to using it as a class reader. This is fiction for teenagers of a good standard. The story is simple, and straight-forward. However, the quiz element is original. It is unlikely that the common complaint ('not enough action') will be voiced by students.

However, for adult readers some elements may be seen as fairly two-dimensional: Mina (we like Mina!) is good and only good. Phil goes from super meanie to actually-he's-okay in no time at all...more
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Not entirely sure how this one got on my radar but I must have realized that it was a contemporary set in England from the male perspective, all good things to me. So I picked it up and read it quite quickly.

There are a lot of heartbreaking moments contained in these pages but thankfully also moments of hope to balance the darkness. See, Laurence is a fifteen-year-old who is essentially the responsible adult in his family t...more
Sammee (I Want to Read That)
4.5 Stars

I've had the feeling I would really enjoy this one ever since hearing the author read an excerpt at an event last year. It's a fantastic debut - humorous and poignant - I loved every minute.

The story follows Laurence and his brother Jay when their mother doesn't come home from work. Scared that they will be separated again, Laurence does everything in his power to hide his mother's absence from the authorities. But with an incredibly nosey neighbour and money running out will Laurence f...more
Ms. Yingling
Laurence is used to taking care of his young brother, Jay, since his mother is usually drunk and has limited patience generally dealing with life, much less children specifically dealing with children. Laurence can get Jay to the caregivers and school, make sure he is fed, and occasionally goes to his mother's job cleaning offices to do her work, if she is too hungover to get out of bed. But when his mother doesn't come home from work one night, he finds it increasingly hard to take care of Jay....more
A real and gritty debut by Dave Cousins; an author everyone should be on the lookout for this coming year. I'm already excited for his next book and this one isn't even out yet (unless you count the Oxford publication)

Jay is the kind of teenage boy that gets overlooked, he's caring, sweet and so protective of his younger brother...all this is overlooked by his height and the fact that lately he's been late to school or is falling asleep in class.

Tackling the subject of parents with alcohol abuse...more
Beth Kemp
This incredible debut, making great use of humour to deal with a decidedly unfunny scenario, is highly recommended.

Dave Cousins is a gifted writer. The grimness of life with an alcoholic mother is conveyed convincingly here, and our hearts break for these two lads. And yet, at the same time, this is a laugh-out-loud, enjoyable story.

Laurence narrates his own story, in the present tense, lending it immediacy and freshness. His voice is realistic as a fifteen-year old boy and as our narrator, we s...more
I've started, scrapped, and restarted this review numerous times already. Why? Because I'm finding it hard to get my thoughts onto paper coherently and without sounding melodramatic—at least to my own ears. Dave Cousins'15 Days Without a Head had its protagonist Laurence dealing with problems that resonated with some of the things I dealt with as a teen: the sense of responsibility for a younger sibling; the idea that it was up to me to make sure my mother was happy; that if only I was the perfe...more
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
In Dave Cousins' debut YA novel, 15 Days Without a Head, 15-year-old Laurence Roach and his six-year-old brother, Jay, are abandoned by their alcoholic mother and left to fend for themselves for two weeks. Life was hard for Laurence even before his mother left. He had to make sure she got up in the morning, get his brother to school, run across town to get to his school, and then rush back after school to pick his brother up. After this he had to keep Jay safe until their mother returned home an...more
Kirsty (overflowing library)
Fifteen Days without a head was one of those books that I read without really knowing what it was about and without any expectations about what it had it store for. I was blown away by it and loved reading each and every page and am looking forward to reading more of the author's work in the future.

If I had to compare this book to anything else out there I would say the closest comparison is Phil Earle's Being Billy because while the storylines were different they had the same feel about them as...more
I think what I expected was a book that would make me laugh. Something lighthearted about two boys having the run of the house while their mother has left for a few days. Instead, I got a touching and heart wrenching story about two brothers fighting to survive and not being taken from their home by social services, while they try to find their mother who disappeared without a trace.

Reading it from a parent’s point of view, 15 Days without a Head is quite a disturbing read. I also have to boys s...more
Laurence is 15 and one day, his mother doesn't come home. He has to lie to everyone around him, including his 6 year old brother, in order to avoid social services while he hunts for his alcoholic/depressed mother.

I would call this book "painfully engaging". It was heartbreaking witnessing the life of these children who will do anything to stay together with their mother, who, through the circumstances of life, feels alone, unlovable and without hope.

Balancing the depressing scenes of their life...more
Laurence Roach is fifteen years old. His mother is an alcoholic, his six year old brother pretends to be a dog. Still, he gets through life. He is trying to win a holiday for his family on the radio, hoping it might bring a positive change to their rotten lives. And then his mother disappears, and Laurence finds himself struggling to pretend that everything is alright, scared that he and his brother would be sent into foster care.

This book deals with some serious issues, from neglect/abuse to a...more
Jennifer Hummer
My youngest daughter and I sometimes go through the day speaking with an English accent. She's very good at it, mine's a little squirrely from having lived in Australia at one point, but it's not terrible. I love the English accent more than life itself. And I love reading in it even more than that. All this to say that I adored 15 Days Without a Head. This author, this Dave Cousins, can REALLY WRITE.

It's probably impossible not to fall in love with Laurence Roach who yes, narrates with an Engl...more
I've been looking forward to reading 15 Days Without A Head ever since I heard Dave Cousins give a reading at an event last year so my expectations for the story were high. The trouble with expecting so much from a book is that it is easy to end up disappointed so I'll admit I was nervous when I started reading. Luckily Dave not only lived up to my expectations - he completely surpassed them and the story blew me away. It's hard to believe that this is a debut novel and that just makes me even m...more
Book Angel Emma
Guest Review by Beth

When this novel reached me, I expected a zombie slash comic story with jokes and guts round every corner. I couldn’t have been more wrong and the title is more than a little confusing! In fact, 15 days Without A Head deals with some seriously hard hitting issues in an accessible and easy to read way. I think the novel is aimed a few years younger than most those Emma sends across but this doesn’t detract from its quality and for a debut, I can’t knock it.

Our protagonist is L...more
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Dave Cousins completed his first novel in the back of a van, while touring with his band (who were almost famous!)

He went on to be a winner of the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices Anthology 2010 and his debut novel for teens, 15 Days Without a Head, was published by Oxford University Press in January 2012.

Originally from Birmingham, Dave now lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and family, in a house fu...more
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“A secret is like a bag you have to lug around all the time - each day you add another lie, and it just gets heavier and harder to carry on your own.” 4 likes
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