Ten-year-old Jamie hasn't cried since it happened. He knows he should have - Jasmine cried, Mum cried, Dad still cries. Roger didn't, but then he is just a cat and didn't know Rose that well, really.
Everyone kept saying it would get better with time, but that's just one of those lies that grown-ups tell in awkward situations. Five years on, it's worse than ever: Dad drinks, Mum's gone and Jamie's left with questions that he must answer for himself.
This is his story, an unflinchingly real yet heart-warming account of a young boy's struggle to make sense of the loss that tore his family apart.
MY SISTER LIVES ON THE MANTELPIECE starts off with loss. From the title, it's not a mystery, but what makes it so shocking is the viewpoint. A 10-year old boy is narrating his life without his sister. How his father behaves, how his other sister (twin to the one who has passed) behaves, and how he fits into the dynamic of a family torn apart. What is a mystery at first, is how the sister died. There is a reference to the "remains" of his sister's body, and this is before she has been cremated. There is also a reference to his Jamie's father's hatred of Muslims. Note: This book takes place in England.
More details are revealed as the novel goes on. I won't spoil it, but I will say that Annabel Pitcher successfully navigates the delicate matter of learned hatred and racism, due to the sister's death, and also builds a dreary, but realistic picture of how a family can become so divided by the absence of one member. That's not to say that I didn't have some issues with the content and the writing. There were several odd or awkward scenes that had me saying, okayyyy?! However, remembering that the narrator is supposed to be ten, and understanding the nature of losing a close family member, those bits weren't off-putting.
The bottom line is that MY SISTER LIVES ON THE MANTELPIECE lives up to its moniker. It is a book about death, about coping with death, and about relating to the other people around you that are trying to make sense of something senseless. This novel is important in its own way, especially as it is written in a vocabulary that even middle grade readers could understand. Having read this book for a book club, and having had the chance to deconstruct it with others, I could see MY SISTER LIVES ON THE MANTELPIECE being a benchmark tool in classrooms and homes for those of all ages to discuss loss.
I acquired this book at my local public library
06 December, 2012
Book Review: My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher
Posted by Lillie (AliseOnLife)
I'm a writer, aspiring to that higher plane of becoming a published author. I love books in all their forms, be it electronic or print (though obviously, there is nothing like the texture of a book in my hands!). I want to share that love and meet others who feel the same.