Friday, May 10, 2013

Review: 15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins

15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins
Release Date: May 8, 2013 
Publisher: Flux
Source: Publisher for Review via NetGalley 
A compelling US debut about family, forgiveness, and hope

Despite having a depressed alcoholic mother and a little brother who's convinced he's a dog, fifteen year-old Laurence Roach is trying to live a normal life. But when his mom doesn't come home after work one night, Laurence is terrified that child services will find out she's gone and separate him from his brother.

For two weeks, Laurence does whatever he can to keep her disappearance a secret. Spinning a web of complicated lies for friends, neighbors, and the authorities, Laurence even dresses like his mother to convince everyone she's still around. By following clues, the brothers are finally able to track down their mother's whereabouts. And that's when the real trouble begins in this powerful story about what it means to be a family.(

Currently listening to: Skyfall by Adele 

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.

Lawrence Roach has a terrible life. His mother is an alcoholic and spends most of her money on booze and not Lawrence or his six year old brother Jay. When she goes missing, Lawrence is so scared that child protective services will find the brothers and separate them, he tells no one about his mother's disappearance. At 15, Lawrence can handle so much more than I could ever imagine. From the very beginning, my heart went out to him. His love for both his brother and mom was evident and pure. The phone booth plays a large role in this story and I won't ruin it for anyone but believe me, half the time, I didn't understand why Lawrence did what he did. But the love he has for his family makes the reader want to root for him. It makes the reader want to jump right in and save him but in the end, the fact that he can save himself makes the reader even happier.

The plot is pretty honesty and realistic. For me, someone who has lived a fairly good life, I wasn't sure how to react to this story. I'm not an oblivious person to say the least and I know that poverty and single parent families exist but not having felt any of it personally made my heart hurt. I wanted so desperately to help Lawrence but then it made me think "am I some well to do girl trying to make myself feel better by helping people who might not have as much?" Maybe I was being ridiculous but in all honesty, I wanted to do something, anything, for Lawrence.

Along those same lines, I very much disliked his mother. I kept wondering how a mother could treat her children like this? How could she just leave them to fend for themselves? Yet again I was reminded by the fact that neither one of my parents drink a lot (my mom actually doesn't drink at all) so was I, once again, an over privileged girl feeling sorry for someone? I have had friends in this situation so I was being honest in my feelings but who knows? But in reality, a lot of single moms exist in our society. Some of my friends have single moms and they stay and take care of their kids and work. Honesty, I wanted to feel for her but I wasn't as sympathetic because I'd seen that single moms can be amazing parents all on their own.

If you can't tell, the characters really made this story for me. I didn't mention half of the supporting characters but every one of them had their own personalities and helped (or hurt) Lawrence in some way. I hope you all give this book a try because I know that it doesn't seem like a big deal but the story found between the pages of 15 Days Without a Head is one many teenagers face in society today.
Cover Comments: 
It actually goes with the book! While it makes no sense right now, after reading the book, I understand the need for the phone booth!