Saturday 11 June 2011

Review: My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece - Annabel Pitcher

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.

Visit Annabel Pitcher's website or watch the trailer below for more information

5 years ago a terrorist attack that killed Jamie's sister Rose tore his family apart and they are still struggling to pick up the pieces.  His Mum was unable to cope with the constant reminders of her lost daughter and walked out of the family home while his father drinks to bury his pain.  Jamie barely remembers Rose, he was only 5 when she died, but the after effects of her death leave him struggling to cope.  His Dad has promised a new start when they move to the lake district but can they really find a way to reconnect as a family?

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is a heartbreakingly real story of a family struggling to cope with the grief of losing a child.  The story is told by 10 year old Jamie who is a character it is impossible not to fall in love with.  He may barely remember Rose but his whole life has been profoundly effected by her loss and we get to follow him as he tries to make sense of what happened to his family.  Annabel Pitcher has perfectly captured the voice of a 10 year old and the things that Jamie comes out with often reminded me of my younger brother when he was that age.  Although the story is a sad one that made me cry several times it also managed to make me laugh out loud and left me feeling hopeful at the end.

At times I wanted to reach into the book and shake Jamie's parents, the way they ignored Jamie and his older sister Jasmine was infuriating!  I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it must be to loose a child though and although I was frustrated with his parents I also found myself feeling a great deal of sympathy for them.  I was far more concerned about the welfare of the children though and all I wanted to do was give them both a hug and tell them that somehow things would be OK.

Their Dad has promised Jamie & Jasmine that the move to the Lake District will be a new start for them all and that things will be different there.  They soon realise that this is not the case though, after all you can try to run from your problems but they'll always catch up with you in the end.  Jamie not only struggles with his home life but he now has to try and fit in at a new school and try to make new friends.  At first Jamie is horrified when he is made to sit next to Sunya in class - as his Dad regularly reminds him Muslims killed his sister - but watching their friendship develop as the story continues was one of the highlights for me.  Jamie quickly comes to realise that it wasn't Sunya or her family who caused the explosion that killed Rose but he knows that his father would never approve of their friendship and struggles with his guilt at keeping his new friend a secret.

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is a beautifully written story that I would recommend to everyone.  The story deals with difficult issues such as terrorism, racism and bullying but it also shows how life goes on despite the terrible things that can happen.  Grief can tear a family apart but it can also bring you closer together if you let it.  As a debut novel this is an amazing achievement and Annabel Pitcher is definitely an author to watch out for in the future.

Source: I won this book in a Twitter giveaway by Nina from Orion

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.


  1. Beautiful review Sarah. You caught the feeling of this book perfectly.

  2. Wonderful review - this sounds like a very intense, moving book - I've added it to my TBR pile - I remember seeing the cover before and being put off without not really knowing what it was about ( I know - shouldn't judge a book by its cover lol - but it happens sometimes!)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

  3. Sounds really good. I actually have seen this book at the bookstore while I was waiting for my friend to arrive. I didn't think I would like it, so I didn't bought it. Now I see I was wrong. I may go back now! ;) Great review.

  4. I recently checked this book out of the library as I'd heard such wonderful things about it. I'm really looking forward to reading it now, thanks for the great review!

  5. @ Viv - thanks hun, it was such a good book I was worried I wouldn't be able to do it justice

    @ Amy - it's definitely a moving book but one that's well worth reading. I know what you mean about judging a book by it's cover lol. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did :o)

    @ Nina - I'm glad you like the sound of this one & hope you enjoy it if you decide to pick it up :o)

    @ Clover - I can't wait to see what you think of this one! I hope you love it



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