Monday 9 May 2011

My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

Pages - 221

Published in 2011

Book kindly sent to me by the publisher

My sister Rose lives on the mantelpiece. Well, some of her does. Three of her fingers, her right elbow and her kneecap are buried in a graveyard in London. Mum and Dad had a big argument when the police found ten bits of her body. Mum wanted a grave that she could visit. Dad wanted a cremation and to sprinkle the ashes in the sea. That's what Jasmine told me anyway. She remembers more than I do. She was Rose's twin. 

It is five years after the bombing that killed his sister Rose and Jamie's family are still trying to repair the unrepairable damage the event caused. His parents have separated, leaving Jamie and his sister living with their Dad, who now suffers with a severe drinking problem and often needs his children to look after him.Their mum has deserted them and doesn't seem keen to keep in contact at all. Jamie struggles to come to terms with the devastation his family continues to suffer, over a person that he barely remembers.

This book is real. Real life,raw and gritty, not sugar coated to make it easier to digest. Real tragedy that could easily reflect the aftermath on a family after losing someone in a terrorist attack. This book will really stir up your emotions, leaving you crying your eyes out by the end. In fact, this book should have a warning label on it, advising it not be read in public, due to excessive waterworks.

This book is written through Jamie's eyes and straight away you realise he needs your undivided attention because no one else in his life is giving it too him. He is too young to remember much about his sister Rose, yet he stands by on a daily basis and watches how her death destroys his parents, to the point where his mother can no longer live with them and his father barely remembers he has other children, as he staggers daily from one drink to the next. As you read, you have this desperate need to call social services yourself  to rectify the unhappy situation and bring happiness into his life. On top of all of that, not only does Jamie suffer at home, but also at school, where instantly he is labelled as different and picked on for being the new boy. He has no where to go to find peace.

As a mother, I struggled to feel anything but contempt for Jamie's mother, who completely abandoned her children to a drunk. I can understand that she reached a point where she could no longer live with her past, but to leave her children that way is just difficult to swallow.

Jasmine, his older sister is a very strong character; after losing her twin sister, she appears determined not to lose any other members of her family and steps into her mother's shoes to help Jamie survive.

The friendship between Sunya and Jamie has a Shakespearean quality to it as you envisage the forbidden budding romance of Romeo and Juliet. Jamie has a better understanding of the world than his father and he can clearly see that just because Sunya is a Muslim, it does not mean she is responsible for the death of his sister.

This book is eloquently written, pulling at your heart strings with every page as you watch from the sidelines; a grieving family, struggling to re identify their positions in the family structure and the world around them. Each family member coping in their own way with their loss. Jamie comes across just like every other ten year old I know, only with much more emotional baggage than most.

This is a book that should be read by adults as well as children. Just be prepared for your emotions to take a battering.

For a debut novel, this is exceptional, leaving me in no doubt that Annabel Pitcher is an author who will be around for a very  long time.

Come back tomorrow to read about how Annabel Pitcher got her Big Break in publishing.


  1. I haven't heard of this one before but it does sound like an interesting read.

    Also I can't remember if I said but I LOVE the new blog design!


  2. I saw lots of talk about this one over on the (Fierce Fiction I think it was) Facebook page a while ago - I didn't enter any of the giveaways as I just don't think I could handle the read - heck, I'm getting a lump in my throat just reading your review.

    Said it before and I'll say it again, mythological monsters I can handle in spades - human monsters... nope. Because it can oh so easily happen, it makes it so much more monsterous - I'd have nightmares after this one I think.

  3. Well this title caught my eye for sure. Sounds like this might be a good one.

    BTW, Viv, I hope you had a nice w/end (almost said mother's day, but then not in the UK) :)

  4. Wow... that's quite a passage you've chosen! Looking forward to tomorrow's post already.

  5. Jules - it is a brilliant read. YOu will love it.

    Carmen - so you don't want to borrow it then. LOL

    Diane - it is an incredible read and yes I did thank you. I hope your weekend was good too.

    JoAnn - this is one of those books to make you think.

  6. Wow, that sounds like an amazing book! I'm adding it to my wish list.

  7. Wow. This sounds incredible. The style of it sounds like Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - Told through the eyes of a child who doesn't really understand everything about what's going on or what's happened. This is definitely one to look out for.

  8. This sounds like a great read - I've heard so many good things. Must check it out soon!

  9. Sounds like a very emotional book. I just wish the cover was better, it looks so 70s, 80s freaky

  10. Hi Vivienne, I'm so glad to be back and able to visit.

    Waterworks I can well do without at the minute but this does sound like a book I'd like to read - just not now. Thanks for the recommendation.

  11. Wow, this sounds like such an emotional but good book. I like books that tug on my heart - they usually end up as my favorites.

  12. Wow, what a powerful and intense book. It's awful how the tragic death of a child rips a family apart and brings even more tragedy to the lives of the other children in the family. Not only has Jamie lost a sister but he's basically lost his parents, too. Fortunately, Jasmine sounds like a strong and caring sister and another great character. Why do parents almost forget they have other children? It's infuriating and unfair even though it's also understandable, to a degree anyway. My heart breaks for poor Jamie. I sure do want to read this book and find out what happens.
    Thank you for reviewing this book. I'll be back tomorrow to meet Annabel Pitcher.

  13. I feel my mommy heart being battered just by reading your review.

    This book has just recently been released here in Norway as well.

  14. I've seen a few reviews of this now, waiting for me on my ever growing wishlist

  15. Bermudaonion - you will love it.

    Carmen: spoilsport ;-P

    Ceri - I haven't read The Boy In Striped Pyjamas. I am sure it will make me cry.

    Leanna - I can highly recommend it.

    Blodeuedd - I love the cover! He follows you around.

    Petty Witter - Eek! Hope everything is OK.

    Darlene - I forgot you are good with the tear jerkers.

    Amy - what a lovely comment. Thank you . You will love the interview with Annabel; she made me laugh.

    Ladybug - glad to hear it is going international. You will definitely be battered.

    Katrina - I am sorry! LOL

  16. Wow, this sounds like a really interesting read. I really enjoyed reading your review for it, thank you for sharing! This will be going on my to read list. :)

  17. This sounds like an amazing book! I can definitely understand being frustrated at the mom for abandoning her kids.

  18. Christy - I hope you enjoy it.

    Vasilly - it must be a mother thing.

  19. It sounds like a moving read. Great review. I'd definitely need a box of tissues if I read this one.

  20. I've heard so many great things about this book - I need to buy it soon, fab review!


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