Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Fifteen Days Without a Head” as Want to Read:
Fifteen Days Without a Head
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Fifteen Days Without a Head

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,057 ratings  ·  172 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,057 ratings  ·  172 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Serendipity Reviews
Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
- ̗̀ deanna ̖́-
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
it's probably impossible not to fall in love with Laurence Roach. it's definitely impossible not to fall in love with his little brother, Jay, who thinks he’s a dog. and it’s completely impossible not to want to rip their mother’s head off. but that’s really the point here. you can’t. Laurence can’t, Jay can’t and even Nosy Nelly can’t.

Mrs. Roach is a pathetic alcoholic, frequent liar and overall whiner, but she’s family. and you can’t give up on family even when you really really want to. this
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen-ya
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
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Shine Mozor
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was going to be a funny book, but it was oddly depressing. I'm really not sure how i feel about their mom still having custody over them. She doesn't deserve them, but everyone deserves a second chance I guess, or in her case a 1000th chance. I dont know, still conflicted about that. Enjoyed the radio game show aspect of this book, learned a lot of interesting facts from it, that I have already forgotten. Laurence was a very strong protagonist and i just wanted to give him a hug, ...more
Isaiah S.
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It was very good! Good detail, good plot, but there were some parts I didn't understand but that was Laurence! Amazing book I would recommend!
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2011
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
Dec 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michelle by: Jo
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
A cockroach doesn't die even if you chop its head

Don't get me wrong. This isn't a book about cockroaches. This is the story about Laurence Roaches, a sixteen years old guy, who has to survived living with his six years old brother, Jay, after their Mom disappeared. It seemed like they lived without a head, panicked, frustrated (mostly because of the lack of money) and hoped that their Mum would be back soon. Thanks God Mr.Cousins gave us Mina, who saved the day (and also Roaches brothers).

Feb 04, 2017 added it
Recommends it for: Young Adult

Author: Dave Cousins

Rating: 7.4/10

Would you last 15 days without a head? I certainly wouldn't! All a typical teenager called Laurence Roach wants is a normal life. But that seems impossible if his alcoholic mum and his 6-year-old brother, who thinks he is a dog have anything to do with it! When his mum doesn't come home one night, he is terrified that his brother will be taken into care if she doesn't come home... Instead, he comes up with an idea to dress up as his
Suzanne Lilly
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-contemporary
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
Jul 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
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
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put it down. Laurence is 15 and living with his drunk, two-job working, depressed mum and his 6 year old brother Jay in a run down walk-up. Roaches in the kitchen, despair all around. Laurence is convinced that if he just manages to win a radio contest vacation that his mum and life in general will turn around. That is, until the day that mum doesn't come back home.

The writing is realistic and the characters real: flawed and honest.
Jasmine Richards
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing

15 Days Without A Head is Dave’s first novel and comes fresh from him winning a place in the 2010 SCBWI Undiscovered Voices anthology. It is a contemporary teen novel that tells the story of two brothers over fifteen days that change their lives forever.

He is a natural storyteller with real musicality to his prose. His first novel is both heart-breaking and hilarious, and his characters incredibly memorable.
Andrew Carlson
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Brenda Zalegowski
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars but I generally round up. An entertaining story but not amazing. I didn't get emotionally invested like I wanted to and I wanted to skim the scenes with the radio contest. Still I liked Laurence's "voice". I would read more by this author.
Paula de Santana
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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:

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 perf ...more
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
After reading the title of this book I fully expected some middle school drama with a little boy losing friend or somthing along those lines but this book took me completely by surprise. Laurence (the main character) has a pretty shitty life but no matter what tries his hardest to keep his disfunctional family together. His mom being a avid alcoholic not doing her job as a parent his dad absent from his life and taken away at a early age and then you have his adorable but cocky lil brother who a ...more
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
An easy read with likeable characters
Miss Mara
Abusive and neglectful mother? Check. Manic Pixie Dream Girl? Check. Unresolved ending? Sorta check.
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone! It's Stunning - A Book I Won't Be Forgetting In A Hurry!
What would you do to keep your family together? Fifteen-year-old Laurence Roach is prepared to do anything to keep his little brother Jay with him: See, his Mum has problems. She drinks a lot and smokes and works two rubbish jobs to get enough money to feed them all. But one day, she just doesn’t come home. To start with, Laurence isn’t overly worried. She’s disappeared before, gone off drinking ‘til her money runs out. But after a while, he realises this is different. And to keep Jay with him, ...more
Originally reviewed on my blog Reading the Best of the Best.

Wow was 15 Days Without a Head a completely different than what I had expected. For one, I didn't think I'd become so protective of Lawrence as I did or that this book would make me happy for what I have. Gritty, honest, sad, and hopeful, 15 Days Without a Head tells the story of 15 year old Lawrence Roach whose mother is alcoholic. While the cover might seem misleading and the title sounds weird, this book is well worth a read.

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
Vanya D.
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
NOTE: I received the eARC from Netgalley.

For I while I wondered why the heck I'd even requested this book. But when I actually got to it, I realized I'd made a good choice. And the more I read, the more I liked it.

Actually, 15 Days isn't your regular book full of cheesy romance and perfect situations which lead to this absolutely awesome relationship between the characters. On the contrary, this book reeks of originality, funny (in an ironic kind of way) situations, impossible hardships. It's t
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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
Christal (Badass Book Reviews)
See this review and others like it at!

15 Days Without a Head was a gripping and heartbreaking read. I wasn't sure exactly how deep this novel would be when I read the synopsis, but it delved very deeply into the hearts, worries, sadness, and fears of the Roach brothers. Laurence was especially vulnerable throughout this novel as he carried the majority of the burdens. Dave Cousins is definitely a YA author to watch and I look forward to many more books from him.

Though the s
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Being Billy
  • This is Not Forgiveness
  • The Seeing
  • Anthem for Jackson Dawes
  • Almost True (When I Was Joe, #2)
  • Kill All Enemies
  • Black Heart Blue
  • India Dark
  • Naked
  • Chocolate SOS (Jess Jordan, #5)
  • Brown Skin Blue
  • We Can Be Heroes
  • Heart-Shaped Bruise
  • How to Keep a Boy as a Pet (Circe Shaw, #1)
  • Stones for My Father
  • Della Says: OMG!
  • Pirouette
  • Angel Dust
See similar books…
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
“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
More quotes…