We’ve been dancing with delight at the reviews coming in for James Gould-Bourn’s fantastically funny and heart-warming debut Keeping Mum since it was published in the UK by Trapeze in June and in the US by Scribner under the title Bear Necessity this month. To celebrate this wonderful father-and-son story being out in the world, we thought we’d get together all the bear-illiant things people have said about the book so far!

Keeping Mum
(Trapeze, 2020)

Selected for Inside Soap’s ‘Hot List’, June 2020

‘Keeping Mum is fast, fresh and very, very funny. Danny and his son Will are both in mourning for Will’s mum, Liz, but their grief is pushing them further apart. Will hasn’t spoken since she died, whereas Danny is struggling to hold down a job, until he’s desperate enough to think that a moth-eaten panda costume might be his ticket to paying his rent. Moving effortlessly from comedy to poignancy, it’s a story of joy, of connection and of the overwhelming resilience of the human spirit. Reading it made me want to dance. All the time. For ever. An absolute gem of a book.’
Katie Marsh, author of The Rest of Me

‘James Gould-Bourn’s novel is a comedy of sadness and dancing bears. That alone should convince you to pick up a copy, but I’ll add that it’s a delightful story about fatherhood and childhood. And dancing bears.’
Owen King, author of Double Feature

‘a touching and often hilarious journey in Gould-Bourn’s impressive debut novel. A truly joyful read.’
Press & Journal

Woman & Home

‘a joyous, uplifting story of a father and son finding their way back to each other.’
Daily Mail

‘hits that sweet spot between being properly funny and gut-punchingly emotional.’
Fabulous Mag, The Sun

‘An uplifting tale about a dad reconnecting with his son.’
Zoe West, Woman’s Weekly

‘Touching and funny.’
Bella, ‘New Must Reads’

‘An uplifting and moving tale of a father reconnecting with his son.’
Woman’s Own

‘I couldn’t resist this heart-warming story… If you want feel-good with a distinctive, funny, supporting cast, then this is the book for you.’
Daily Mail, ‘Staycation Sensations’

‘Funny, touching and surprising.’

Bear Necessity
(S&S US, 2020)

‘Delightful, heartwarming…a grounded confection with a heart of gold that’s ideal for fans of Nick Hornby.’
Heather Booth, Booklist

‘A well-written, speedy read that focuses on the love between a dad and his son and how it can lead to friendship.’
Kirkus Review

Shelf Awareness

‘James Gould-Bourn bursts onto the US literary scene with a charming, deeply comforting story about a father and son entrenched in grief… Heartfelt themes and wit further elevate charming plot twists and a well-tuned cast of quirky, supporting characters who prove that the spirit of friendship can build bridges to greater understanding and brighter days. Gould-Bourn is a beautiful, perceptive writer who has crafted a moving, sensitive story that is also very funny. Bear Necessity is a perfect literary antidote to anxious, troubled times.
Kathleen Gerard, Reading Between the Lines

Danny Malooley’s life is falling apart.

He’s a single parent with an eleven-year-old son, Will, who hasn’t spoken since the death of his mother in a car crash fourteen months ago. He’s being pursued by a dodgy landlord for unpaid rent and he’s just lost his job. Struggling to find work, and desperate for money, Danny decides to do what anyone in his position would do.

He becomes a dancing panda.

After seeing street performers in his local park raking it in, he spends his last fiver on a costume… but the humiliation is worth it when Will finally speaks to him for the first time since his mother’s death. The problem is Will doesn’t know that the panda is in fact his father, and Danny doesn’t want to reveal his true identity in case Will stops talking again.

But Danny can’t keep up the ruse forever…