Release date: Hardback edition 1st March 2011
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Orion
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is an emotive, heartbreaking story of love, friendship, prejudice and loss.
Jamie’s sister Rose died in a terrorist attack when he was five. He still has one sister though – Jas – she was Rose’s twin. Five years after that fateful day, Jamie wants his parents to be reconciled and for his mum to comfort him. Not because of his loss, he doesn’t miss Rose but he misses the experience of his family as a warm loving unit. Both his parents have been profoundly affected by Rose’s death. His father drinks too much and is prejudiced against all Muslims, branding them all as terrorists and a burden on our country. His mother has abandoned the family altogether after having an affair and deciding to build a life with this new man.
I found this story immensely sad to read. Pitcher captures the child’s viewpoint with a painful accuracy. The thought of children suffering in any way just breaks my heart so to read how Jamie was so hopeful that things would change and then have his hopes dashed was like torture to me. I don’t know what else to say really. It was hard to enjoy a book that was so emotionally raw.
But I can admire this book. The author is brave and should be commended to tackling the issue of prejudice against the Islamic faith as well as the immorality of inflicting a racist viewpoint on our children. Surely imposing extremist views on a child is just as much a form of child abuse as violence or neglect.
The joy in this story was Jamie’s relationship with Sunya or Girl, M. Sunya is such a sunny, uplifting character. She is brave and imaginative. I really loved how she welcomed Jamie into his new life in the Lake District. If there’s a lesson in this story, it’s that children can teach us lessons that we should never have to be taught. They can be cruel and mean. But more often they are open-minded and creative and caring. We’re lucky that the future is in their hands rather than our own.
I think I was compelled to read this book now rather than at any other time because of the ten year anniversary of September 11th. It’s hard to comprehend how many children will live with the legacy of those terrorist attacks and in so many different ways too. There are so many heartbreaking stories. This book really brought that home to me. Loss experienced as a child is every bit as painful as for an adult and yet it has a different meaning for them. My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is a powerful story. It may be sad but it is also full of hope, as we all are for a warm and embracing future.
The paperback edition of My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is released on September 29th.
Thank you to Orion books for sending this book for review.Read for the British Books Challenge 2011.