Fifteen Days Without a Head is a YA realistic fiction book about how far one would go to save their family. Laurence Roach is trying his best to have a normal life, but that is challenging when his mom is an alcoholic. She loves her sons, but grief, depression, and violent mood swings get in the way. Laurence is also starting to become more of a parent than a 15-year-old student in high school. He constantly is taking care of his 6-year-old brother, Jay, who thinks he is Scooby Doo.
One day, their mom does not come home from work. Laurence does not want to tell anyone about his mother's disappearance in fear that he and his brother will be separated. Hours turn into days, and Laurence spins a complicated web of lies, even dressing up as his mom to trick nosy neighbors. Every night, he pretends to be his father and calls into a radio station to win a tropical vacation. Once Laurence finds his mother, he believes the vacation will make his mother want to come back.
I wish that there were more scenes at school. There was one interaction with a teacher in the beginning, and I wish that there was more of that. Mina, the girl that Laurence likes, I feel was too suddenly involved. Their relationship was not developed enough for me. The book touches on serious subjects like alcoholism, child abandonment, and poverty. While the subject matter is serious, the characters and the writing style are humorous, especially the Scooby Doo fascination. Laurence and Jay watched Scooby Doo together, and Jay was Scooby and Laurence was Shaggy. They based a lot of things off of the show, which was really cute.
I loved the names of the chapters! Each chapter was a day (15 chapters, 15 days), and he slightly changed the names of the days to match the themes of that chapter. For example, he changed Wednesday to Whensday, and Thursday to Blursday. I also love the title. The first impression of a book is the title and the cover, and the second I read the title I was drawn in.
Laurence seemed way more mature than his age. At 15 he has to take care of his mother, his brother, and school. He was under a lot of pressure, but he pushed through it all and even laughed about it. I find it very ironic that his last name is Roach and there are a lot of cockroaches in their awful apartment. Apparently, Laurence thinks so, too. Laurence does everything he can think of to keep his family together, and it is amazing what he did to get his life back together. This makes Fifteen Days Without a Head inspirational in the sense of the importance of family.
I recommend that you read this book!
Title: Fifteen Days Without a Head
Author: Dave Cousins
Publisher: OUP (Oxford University Press)
Rating: 4 Stars