Tuesday, April 30, 2013

ARC Review: 15 Days Without a Head


15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins
4/5 stars
Flux Books, 2013
Originally published by Oxford University Press, 2011
310 pages
YA Contemporary
Scheduled to release May 8

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 taking care of his six-year-old brother because his alcoholic mother is incapable. He is trying to hold them together but it's so hard as nosy neighbors insert themselves while friends prove themselves in surprising ways. As a subplot, there is Laurence's quest to win the family a vacation from a radio show by pretending to be his own (deceased) father.

So many times, I wasn't sure I'd be able to continue with this book because it was just so hard to read about Laurence's situation. His father and grandmother are dead, his mother has abdicated responsibility, and there is no place to turn for help unless Laurence wants to be separated from his beloved brother. How do you cope? What do you do? Laurence keeps pressing onward, somehow, in a novel that manages to deftly balance the tragic and the comic (for example, the younger brother sometimes behaves as if he was Scooby-Doo).

I think my favorite part was when Laurence makes friends with Mina who steps up in a big way to help out his family. When he realizes he has someone he can trust and rely on, it's a big moment for  him.  Finally he has someone to listen and try to understand his situation without passing judgment. The mother was a difficult character to follow because of her alcoholism. I always want there to be good parents in YA but there's a very clear reason why she is unable to fulfill that role.

Overall: A very well-written issue novel that should appeal to fans of YA contemporary and Anglophiles.

Other Opinions:
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28 comments:

  1. First off, love the title. I swear I've walked around without my head way too often.

    But that story! It sounds SOOO intense! I'm not sure it's for me but I'll definitely tell my librarians about it, as our teens love drama and issue books.

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    1. The title is neat right? It didn't really mean much to me at first but I have more of an appreciation for it now that I've finished it.

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  2. I am fond of British culture but... I am not into reading depressing stories lately.

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    1. It's not really depressing-I thought it would be but there's plenty of levity and hope.

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  3. Okay, I completely misjudged this book. I thought for some reason it was paranormal (maybe the title gave me that idea?), I had no idea it was going to be a really intense issue book. Now I'm definitely reconsidering! I want to give Laurence a hug already:)

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    1. Yeah, definitely not paranormal-it's contemporary and focusing on family.

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  4. What a great title! LOL I wouldn't have thought it would be such an intense issue book. Might be really worth a read! Grat review!

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    1. I wasn't sure what to expect from this but I really liked it and definitely recommend it to others!

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  5. Good to hear that the hope balanced the darkness. I haven't read much british lit but sond like might be worth a go.

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    1. It could have been so overwhelming but it was well-written and meant a lot to me.

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  6. Awe,I bet the little brother is adorable, anyone who love scooby doo would have to be. :D This does sound good, and Laurence sounds like a great kids, so mature. I guess he would have to be. Wonderful review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

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    1. The brother is adorable-his love of Scooby is immense and endearing.

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  7. Okay, our tastes in books are weirdly similar. Just saying...

    I also love books from a male POV set in England. Some of my favorites are About a Boy by Nick Hornsby and A Question of Attraction by David Nicholls. And I'm probably forgetting others…


    I think I have to read this!

    You can find me here: Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. Haven't read either of these British titles although I'm familiar with both authors.

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  8. I had heard the name of this book mentioned in various places but had no idea what the story was about. I wouldn't have guessed it would be something so serious. Goes to show that you can't judge a book by its title!

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    1. It was surprising and I really enjoyed it!

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  9. I have a copy of this and hadn't heard anything about it so had no idea what to expect. I didn't realize it took place in England (major bonus) or that it was so series. I had figured it was a lighter contemporary (I haven't read the description since January when I picked it up at ALA). I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed this, I'll be sure to add it to my read soon pile!

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    1. Glad I let you know so that you can be prepared for the darker tone.

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  10. Great review! I've seen this one around but didn't really know much about it. I think it's something I'd enjoy though. Love male p.o.v. books and stories set in England. Win-win right there, right? LOL I'm glad you were able to push through and enjoyed the story.

    -Lauren

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    1. Yes, win-win! There were a lot of great elements here.

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  11. I love stories that feature siblings! There's always something wonderful about family, and I love reading stories in particular about old siblings caring for younger ones. I'm definitely curious about it.

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    1. Sister stories are my favorite but this was a great brother-brother relationship with a lot of sweet moments.

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  12. That's certainly an attention-grabber of a title. I'm glad to hear that such a sensitive topic was handled well. I'll have to check this one out.

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    1. I feel like the title is a little bit longer than typical and I like that I've never heard one like it.

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  13. SO glad to hear that you liked this one too. England is one of my go-tos when it comes to books as well, and you are right there are a ton of heartbreaking scenes in this book but there was also a lot of hope.

    Unfortunately, I feel like this book is going to fly under the radar and I just hate that. I am hoping that I am wrong. Great review!

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    1. I feel like contemporaries never get their due. I am encouraged though by the many people who commented here-this is one of my most popular posts and hopefully they will help spread the word!

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  14. I am positive I have this one via NG??? The title drew me to it. I loved your review, it makes me want to read it sooner than later. Male pov and heart breaking moments...ok!

    I shall look in my pile of NG for this!

    :d

    Mich

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    1. You might since that's where I got it. I hope you do read, love and review this so we can spread the word!

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