One Hundred and Fifty-Two Days

By Giles Paley-Phillips

A unique semi-autobiographical novella written in verse that looks at the impact on a teenager whose mother is terminally ill

Biography | Mental health
150% funded
1017 supporters
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Publication date: March 2020

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Written in the first person, One Hundred and Fifty-two Days tells the story of a teenage boy whose mother is terminally ill. Following a bout of pneumonia, the boy isn’t allowed to visit his mum who is receiving end of life treatment in hospital. His home life feels just as detached as his father turns to drink to mask the pain and escape the challenges they face as a family. As a coping mechanism he develops a powerful bond with his sparky and free-thinking physiotherapist, called Freya. Unlike anyone else in his life, Freya is able to lift his spirits and fill the void left by a distant father, a scatty grandmother and of course his dying mother, and finally open his eyes to a world full of possibility, hope and love.

This free-verse novella is the first time I’ve written for an older audience having mostly written picture books in the past. My intention was always to write this story in free verse as it allowed me to use language to express myself emotionally and artistically so much more than prose ever could.

It also felt like someone could read this is one or two sittings, much like watching a film or listening to an album, allowing the story to be consumed in one piece rather than being nibbled at over several days or weeks.

Above all this is a story I’ve been wanting to tell for a very long time, because a lot of this book is my story, my experiences, my memories wrapped inside of fiction.


Today I said goodbye to mum.

She is going in

just for a little while

more treatments

we carry on like normal

She's sat on the sofa, dressing gown on

the sun burning a glow on the side

of her face, through the curtain.

Nana Q was going to walk with me

walk with me to school

even though I'm old enough,

I usually walk on my on, but today

they thought Nana Q should go

with me.

“It's time you got going.” Mum Says

and as I lean down to her, she

pulls me in and I feel her shaking.

Uncontrollable shaking, and her grip

though weak is prolonged, and she whispers

in my ear and I can't make it out

and I ask to repeat, but she can't

hold back her tears, and as I pull

away, I wish I'd asked again.

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  • Giles Paley-Phillips avatar

    Giles Paley-Phillips

    Giles Paley-Phillips was born in East Sussex in 1977 and grew up on the south coast. He neglected his education to pursue a career in music and spent a number of years performing extensively around the UK, including slots at the Glastonbury festival. He is the author of nine books, including The Fearsome Beastie (Maverick Arts Publishing), which has now sold over 70,000 copies and won The People's Book Prize 2012 and The Heart Of Hawick Children's Book Award 2013, and was Highly Commended in The Forward National Literature Award in the US. It was also Shortlisted for The Rotherham Children's Awards 2012.
    His book Little Bell and the Moon received much critical acclaim, appearing on BBC Radio 2’s Anneka Rice Show. It was shortlisted for the People's Book Prize 2016 and longlisted for the North Somerset Children's Book Award 2017.
    Giles has made several TV appearances including Good Morning Britain and an author special of BBC2's Eggheads, and is a judge on ITV’s Share a Story. He also writes a regular book column for Title magazine and is co-host of BLANK podcast which launched in 2018.
    Giles still lives in Seaford, East Sussex with his wife, Michelle, and their two sons, Elijah and Sonny. He is a patron for Action Aid UK.

  • Physio Day 108

    The clapping under my arms,

    my back,

    my chest,

    is relentless.

    “The infection was really severe,” she says

    “You've been coming here for quite a while.”

    The clapping is percussive, and I close my eyes

    The rhythm is somehow soothing, then I ready myself

    my position is crucial to make the procedure effective,

    to loosen the secretions caused by the infection.

    “That's it” she says

    “You're doing a good job”

    Clap... Cough...

    and the cup below becomes stained with green spit

    Each cough removes just a little bit more.

    It's been weeks since I started,

    I hope it's nearly all gone.

    Read more...
  • Giles Paley-Phillips has written 2 private updates. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    11th December 2018 Exclusive Spotify playlist when you pledge £40

    This playlist is to accompany my book One Hundred and Fifty-Two Days which is being published by Unbound and is exclusive to people who have pledged for a hardback ans e-book special. "I always listen to music when I write and these songs truly help me through the process of writing this book, they kept me company when I felt lonely, they inspired me when I felt like things weren't working and they…

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