Thursday 5 April 2012

15 days without a head

I read a review of '15 Days Without a Head' by Dave Cousins over on Vulpes Libris, and it's been quite a while since I read any YA fiction so I popped to the library and picked it out.
So, it's about Lawrence and his little brother Jay, and their alcoholic mother has upped and disappeared. Lawrence tries desperately to hold things together, to pretend to Jay that things are ok and to convince the nosey neighbours that they don't need the help of the social services. I liked it because there is no glamorisation, or making him so clever and resourceful ... things are a mess. Lawrence makes some really bad decisions, they have no money and no food and give up on going to school (he's afraid Jay will tell the teacher their mum has gone) and then Jay gets very ill. And then he finds help in the shape of Mina, a girl from school, who's mere presence seems to help him not feel like such a loser. And you can't help but like him, he is so determined, and focusses his whole being on the idea that if he can win a holiday in a radio phone-in competition he can make his mum come home and everything will be alright. It is the neat mixture of trying to be responsible and utter naivety that makes him such a convincing character. Things don't exactly work out ok in the end, but they work out in a believable way, life is tough, and much as you love your family sometimes it's not enough. I liked the way that the guy from social services actually does come in and help them and not judge them, those people need all the good press they can get.

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