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My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece

My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece - Annabel Pitcher Brilliant. But not the kind of book I'd typically give 5 stars.

You can read a bigger, better review (complete with quotes, author interview and Caren's thoughts, too) here on Fictionators.

I've had a really hard time deciding what to say about this book.


That's really all I can say. Because nothing else will give this story justice. This book is about how a family deals with the grief of losing someone. I'm going to tell you right now that they don't take it well. His family basically falls apart, and through it all, we get ten-year-old Jamie's take on things.

It's utterly brilliant. There were several times that I reread passages, marveling at Pitcher's ability to represent Jamie's mindset so accurately. I wouldn't be surprised at all if I found out she were actually a ten-year-old boy. It's so real.

We find out that Rose was playing in a park with her family when she was killed by a terrorist bomb. As a result, their dad hates all Muslims (the bombers were Muslim), their mom has run off with a man from her support group, and their family is basically adrift. Jamie moves with his dad and sister to the country and starts at a new school. There, he meets Sunya, and begins an unlikely friendship with her, all while navigating through a school of people who don't like him, watching his father waste away even more, dealing with his conflicting feelings about everything, and probably the most important thing to him: waiting for his mother to come and visit.

There are moments of triumph and moments of defeat. There is so much growth. There are funny moments, but even those are tinged with overwhelming sadness. I fluctuated between one star and five stars so many times. I didn't like the angst. I wanted this boy to be happy. I wanted his mom to love him. It was freaking AMAZING.

This book is set in London, and Jamie's British, so there are a lot of Britishisms throughout the book, which I really loved. My chief complaint is that he referred to soccer as soccer and not football. That kind of drove me nuts. We got an Advanced Review Copy, so I'm not sure if that's in the final copy or if it's just in the version that was released in the US.

This book isn't like anything I've ever read. I know I say that a lot, so I guess I'm branching out. I can't say that this book is for everyone, because some of you are like me--you want fluff and swoon and happy. This doesn't have that. Well, maybe it has a little teensy bit of that. But for those of you who want to read something that will make you think about things in a different light or will make you possibly take a moment to appreciate what you've got or will make you cry ugly-you-hope-no-one-ever-sees tears, then this is definitely a book you should read. It's quick, but it will change you.