Publication Date: August 2012
Source: Received from publisher
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.
Jamie is lonely, and awkward. He just doesn't fit in no matter where he is. This poor sweet boy just wants his family to see him without the cloud of Rose hanging over them, to gain some sort of closure. Rose was killed five years ago, and his parents can't seem move on. They still act as if Rose is there with them; speaking to her ashes, preparing her a plate at special occasions, and neglect Jamie and Jas. Looking for a fresh start, they move out of London. Once there, the routine stays much the same, revolving around Rose. Jamie reluctantly becomes friends with Sunya, a vibrant and happy girl, who is treated poorly by classmates because she is Muslim. Sunya's personality wins Jamie over. But the fact that Sunya is Muslim troubles Jamie, whose father is adamantly racist because the attack that took Rose was carried out by Muslim terrorists. Jamie tries desperately to reclaim his family, but along the way learns that we each must make our own choices and move on the only way we know how.
My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece is a fairly short book, but every single page carries an extraordinary amount of emotion. I can't say that I enjoyed the story, because it is so emotionally charged and a difficult subject. But it was very, very beautifully written journey and I didn't want to put it down until I'd finished. I've become a parent, I've realized that children are the bravest storytellers. They simply tell the story as they see it; no rewrites, no glossing over.With it's awkward but resilient main character and exploration of the lasting effects of grief on the family unit, I was constantly reminded of About a Boy and The Lovely Bones.
If you're looking for a beautiful story of grief and resilience, My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece may be the book for you.
"My sister Rose lives on the mantlepiece. Well, some of her does. Three of her fingers, her right elbow and her kneecap are buried in a graveyard in London." (pg.1)
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