Friday, August 17, 2012

Review: My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece
By Annabel Pitcher
Published 2012 by Galaxy

Jamie's sister Rose was killed by a bomb in Trafalgar Square. Now, pieces of her live in the urn on their mantelpiece. Now, though, Jamie's father is convinced that a move to the country will provide a desperately needed change for the family. But is it a change for the better?

Wow, this book snuck up on me. I tore through this book in maybe 3 hours total and I was not expecting to cry at the end. But cry I did. Pitcher has crafted a simple yet complex tale of family and grief that packs quite an emotional punch. I spent the majority of this book feeling mad - mainly at the characters. This book made me feel like the characters were real and needed to be dealt with properly. Jamie's parents - ugh, they made me so angry! And Jamie himself - what a wonderful narrative Pitcher has crafted. Jamie is a believable 10 year old, confused about his grief and his family's situation but really just tyring to live as normally as possible. When Jamie befriends a Muslim girl in his new school, he feels an extreme mix of emotions - he is thrilled to have a friend but knows that his father would never approve. While I found it a bit unusual that this girl was enrolled at a church school, I thought otherwise this novel was beautifully crafted. Pitcher does a wonderful job of putting readers into Jamie's shoes - we see the family's implosion through his young but observant eyes. This book tackles some extremely tough subjects but in a mature and confident way. And the last quarter or so is spectacularly moving. I loved the relationship between Jamie and Jas - so beautiful and important - and the way Jamie and Sunya's friendship unfolds. This was a fantastic read and I'll be recommending it to fans of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.

(Side note: I'm not a fan of the cover above; I much prefer the cover I had. which showed an illustration of the urn upon the mantelpiece.)

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