10-yr-old Jamie doesn’t remember his sister Rose. He knows that she is sitting on the mantelpiece and that he should feel sad that she’s gone, but if he can’t remember her, how can he feel the sadness that everyone expects of him?
Rose was killed five years ago in London by one of the terrorist bombs that were awfully planted throughout the city’s rubbish bins. Since the accident, Jamie hasn’t even cried but has spent the last five years watching his family fall apart as a result of the tragedy; his mum has left them to travel the world, his dad is far from coping and his sister, Jas, is sad a lot of the time. But Jamie himself is far more effected by the guilt he feels at not feeling sad than the sadness itself.
When the family moves to the country to start afresh, away from London and the city that is home to bad memories, Jamie hopes that things might be different. Things are supposed to get better with time but the bad feelings seem to have made the journey with them. Jamie is filled with worry about his dad’s drinking, his sister’s new boyfriend and whether his mum will remember to send him a birthday present. Struggling to cope at his new school, Jamie has a lot of problems that need solving without anyone to help him find the answers. The biggest question of all is why his father seems so against Jamie’s new muslim friend, Sunya.
Though Jamie is only 10, this book is aimed at a much wider audience. It deals deftly with some very tricky issues and is beautifully written – the kind of book that tends to stay with you long after you put it down. My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is a story that is at times alarmingly real and though deeply sad in some parts, Jamie’s frank and basically positive attitude to life provides some lighter moments, some moments with hope. Annabel Pitcher’s debut novel is a truly fantastic read. HIGHLY recommended for 12+.