Cows Can't Jump by Philip Bowne

From debut novelist Philip Bowne, winner of the Spotlight First Novel prize, comes this explosive coming-of-age odyssey that catapults 18-year-old Billy Reed across Europe. Billy has just left school and is desperate to escape middle England. It’s 2016, and as a gravedigger, he’s working the ultimate dead-end job. To make matters worse, he’s a virgin, and there’s no hope of him meeting a girl any time soon. The only women at work are in coffins.

Billy’s home life isn’t any better. In the evenings, he observes his dysfunctional family: his grandad is engaged to a woman half his age, his dad’s become obsessed with boxing, and he suspects his mum is having an affair. All the while, celebrities are dropping like flies and Britain is waiting for the EU referendum. Everything is changing, and Billy hates it.

Billy’s life gets a jump start when he falls in love with Eva, an older girl from Switzerland, that’s passionate about Russian literature, Gary Numan, windfarms and chai tea. To Billy’s despair, Eva travels back to her home in Switzerland at the end of summer. But he won’t give up on her that easily. He gambles everything for a chance to be with Eva again.

When things start to go wrong, Billy’s journey across Europe involves hitchhiking with truckers, walking with refugees, and an encounter with suicidal cows. But the further he goes, the harder it is to be sure what he’s chasing – and what he’s running from.

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