15 DAYS WITHOUT A HEAD
My youngest daughter and I sometimes go through the day speaking with an English accent. She’s very good at it, mine’s a little squirrely from having lived in Australia at one point, but it’s not terrible. I love the English accent more than life itself. And I love reading in it even more than that. All this to say that I adored 15 Days Without a Head. This author, this Dave Cousins, can REALLY WRITE.
It’s probably impossible not to fall in love with Laurence Roach who yes, narrates with an English accent (!). It’s definitely impossible not to fall in love with his little brother, Jay, who thinks he’s a dog. (Jay’s 6 year-old voice is spot on, btw.) 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 is the story of how a son teaches his mother to become one. Just in time.
It’s great. Read it.
Lizzie and Angie are best friends until Prom night when Lizzie is caught in bed with Angie’s boyfriend, Drake. Devastated, Angie stays silent as unidentified students at Verity High School seek her revenge by writing “slut” on Lizzie’s locker. For three weeks, Angie watches while Lizzie is bullied and humiliated. But everything changes when Lizzie commits suicide. Rather than putting Lizzie’s bullying to rest, the hazing continues. “Suicide Slut” appears on Lizzie’s locker and photocopies of her diary show up all around the school. Now, Angie sets out to find the tormentors.
What follows is a complicated plotline wherein those who were seemingly innocent are suddenly guilty, and those that were obviously guilty might actually be innocent. Pitcher has an enviable handle on teen dialogue and angst, and her lowercase and random font changes keep the reader focused – to say the least.
The ending, while not giving it away here, is however a bit contrived. It is asking quite a lot from the reader to believe that a single hand-written diary could be the key that unlocks so many of these secrets. That said, there is still much to love here. Angie’s character is complex and compelling and flawed, and yet we root for her. And Pitcher’s writing style is at times mesmerizing and overall daring. This alone makes The S-Word a worthwhile read.