Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, by Annabel Pitcher. The GoodReads summary:
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.
I almost didn’t write a review for this book, because it’s so dang touching and near-perfect that I’m not sure I can adequately convey all the reasons it’s so wonderful. But I’m going to try.

This book is heartbreaking, quite frankly—I cried through the last three chapters, which is not something I do often. Jamie’s life is devastatingly hard and more than any 10 year old should have to deal with—after one of his sisters died, his parents never recovered, and with their ensuing divorce, his mom abandons Jamie and his sister and leaves them with their increasingly alcoholic and prejudiced father. And on top of that, Jamie gets bullied at school. But Jamie, that wonderful kid, perseveres. Sometimes he gets scared, and he doesn’t always make the brave choice, but he keeps on going and never loses his optimistic outlook.

Jas, Jamie’s 15-year-old sister, deserves a medal or something for being the best big sister ever. In some ways she has it harder than Jamie—she’s older, so she understands better than he does the implications of what’s going on in their family. But despite her pink hair, dark eyeliner, and black clothes, she’s unfailingly thoughtful and kind to Jamie. It would be so easy for her to shut him out and focus only on herself and her own problems, but she doesn’t—she not only takes care of Jamie’s basic needs, like keeping him fed, but she also goes to his soccer games and spends time with him. She’s amazing.

And just as wonderful as Jas is Sunya, Jamie’s new friend. Here’s another girl who’s so incredibly strong. She’s the only Muslim at a small Christian school, and she gets bullied relentlessly, but that doesn’t keep her from being herself. She’s resilient and irrepressible, and she reaches out to Jamie and through her friendship helps him find those qualities within himself. Like Jamie says, “Sunya is strong and Sunya is Girl M and Sunya is sunshine and smiles and sparkle.” I wholeheartedly agree.

Overall, this book will break your heart but offer you enough hope to make it all worth it. I recommend it for sure.

Rating: 4.5 / 5


  1. I read this recently, too and it was heartbreaking but lovely. I loved the way Jamie described things; it sounded realistic for a ten year-old, but was incredibly touching. Jas was wonderful; she (almost) made up for those terrible parents.

  2. I could tell just from the title that this was going to be a gut wrencher of a book. I'm not sure if I'd be able to read it. But I think I might make myself because it sounds too good to miss.

  3. thanks for sharing.


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