Friday, 30 December 2011

Review of My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

** What it's about **

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.

** What I thought **

This book is told with a raw energy and bluntness that can only come from being told from the perspective of a child.  Jamie doesn’t really remember Rose, and he misses his normal life more than he misses her.  He wants his mum back, he wants his dad to be sober and he wants his sister to eat more.

It follows a family as they go on a journey (we join them 5 years after a tragic event) and whilst it might not be the kind of journey that ends with a Hollywood-style happy ending, it is heart-warming at the same time as being heart-breaking!

I have to admit I wasn’t totally in love with this book.  It didn’t draw me in so that I couldn’t stop reading, infact I stopped after a few chapters to read another book and came back to it.  However, towards the end of the book, something happens which makes Jamie and his father finally understand each other (I don’t want to give too much away), and I thought this was exceptionally cleverly done. 

This book deals with racism, alcohol abuse, the break up of a family, bullying and grief but it also deals with survival and true friendship (of the forbidden kind).  At the end of the day, it left me with tears in my eyes.

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