Life is difficult for 15-year-old Laurence Roach who lives with his alcoholic mother and his six-year-old brother Jay, who is obsessed with Scooby Doo. Things go from bad to worse when their mother doesn’t come home one day after work and Laurence is left to cope on his own while trying to keep her absence a secret from nosy neighbours, his school and his friends. He knows that if he and his brother are taken into care they may be separated. While the two boys are in a dire situation, there is a warm relationship between them. Laurence gets frustrated by his little brother but also loves him enough to do his best to look after him; Jay is terribly vulnerable but the one stable thing in his life is Laurence.
Humour and pathos in the story comes from the nightly trips to a phone box that Laurence makes as he progresses through a radio phone-in competition. In the middle of this stressful time he meets Mina, a girl from his school who eventually helps him to locate his mum. This is a wonderful, uplifting book, a fabulous story of friendship, loyalty, ingenuity and brotherly love. Laurence isn’t a saint; he struggles with his responsibilities and sometimes does the wrong thing, but as the reader you are really rooting for him to succeed.