Review: My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece

My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece
My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven’t been so choked up while reading a book in a long time. This book is a real heart-breaker.

Summary: Jamie’s sister Rose was killed during the London bombings. Jamie’s family has been broken ever since – his mother and father drifting apart, acting as though the urn in the living room is still a real girl while Rose’s twin sister Jasmine tries to find her identity, and getting upset with Jamie when he doesn’t cry over the lost sibling. Of course, it’s hard for Jamie to remember a time when the family was happy: he was only a toddler when Rose died. Yet his parents ask him regularly to talk about Rose and cry about Rose even ten years later. Now his father has moved Jamie and his sister out to the country but sadly, the isolation only lets his father turn into a complete drunk and Jamie finds himself alone, trying to understand a world that doesn’t make sense.

This book is very well written but it is a tough read. Jamie is naive and innocent and the reader will know when he is being led astray, and it’s painful to watch as the adults in his life fail him in more ways than one. While I felt the ending might have been a little too hit-you-over-the-head with meaning, to Pitcher’s credit, she didn’t make everything magically better a few days later. This book is all about the slow healing process of getting over the loss of a loved one.

This would be a great book discussion title (in fact, I read it because of Books for the Beast in October), but it’s not exactly a fun read. But the story will probably resonate with those born post-9/11 who watch their parents and other adults in their lives mourn that day, and wonder why we still cry even though it seems so long ago.

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