My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece

Annabel Pitcher, Author
Annabel Pitcher. Little, Brown, $17.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-316-17690-3
Reviewed on: 07/23/2012
Release date: 08/01/2012
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In this powerfully honest, quirkily humorous debut novel, first published in the U.K., 10-year-old narrator Jamie and his family are still dealing with his sister Rose’s death in a terrorist bombing five years earlier. After Rose’s twin, Jas, stakes her independence by dying her hair pink on her 15th birthday, the family falls apart—their mother runs off with another man, and their alcoholic father moves from London to the Lake District with the children, where he lavishes attention on Rose’s urn. (In one of many heartbreaking details, Rose’s parents cremated part of their daughter’s remains and buried the rest, a devastating metaphor for the family’s ongoing inability to handle the tragedy.) Jamie’s pivotal friendship with a Muslim girl, Sunya, is a standout. Pitcher tackles grief, prejudice, religion, bullying, and familial instability through the unsentimental voice of a boy who loves Spider-Man and Manchester United, misses his mother, and—truth be told—doesn’t remember his dead sister all that well. The adults in Pitcher’s story may be a mess, but the kids are all right. Ages 12–up. Agent: Catherine Clarke, Felicity Bryan Literary Agency. (Aug.)
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