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Book Review: My Sister Lives on the Mantelepiece by Annabel Pitcher


My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

This is an extraordinary novel – one that captivated me from the opening line to the heart-felt ending. Written from the point of view of a 10-year-old boy, James, it tells the story of a family that has fallen to pieces after his sister Rose was literally blown to pieces in a terrorist attack in London. Five years on their mother has abandoned them to pursue a relationship with a man she met at the counselling sessions, their father is a drunk, and Jas, Rose’s twin sister, is a 15-year-old with pink hair and piercings who now eats like a bird. They have just moved out of London to the Lake District and James is hoping for a new start – but he quickly realises that nothing has changed when their father puts Rose’s urn on the mantelpiece, just where she had resided in London. But James isn’t to know that change will eventually happen, especially when he is befriended by a young Muslim girl at school – although their fledging friendship is complicated by the knowledge his father would go ‘mental’ if he knew because Muslims killed my sister.

If this sounds like a difficult plot-line, don’t be put off. The story is utterly beautiful and feels refreshingly authentic and real. James doesn’t really remember his dead sister – and he certainly doesn’t feel much in the way of her loss – but he is struggling with the loss of the family unit he once had, and in particular, the void of his mother. All of the characters are compelling but this is really James’ story and he takes centre stage in a way that is endearing and sweet and funny and heartbreaking all at the same time and it certainly takes you back to how bewildering the world can be at age ten. This is a wonderful, wonderful book and I’d recommend it to all.

#bookreviews #youngadult

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