by Annabel Pitcher
My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece is the saddest book I’ve ever read.
Okay, not really. Reading Old Yeller in fifth grade was worse. But it’s still pretty sad.
The book is narrated by a ten-year-old boy named Jamie. From the very beginning of the story the family is in shambles. His father is an alcoholic. His mother’s abandoned the family. His older sister is trying to hold them all together. His other sister is dead.
Throughout the book Jamie doesn’t understand the significance of Rose’s death; he barely remembers her at all. She was killed in a terrorist attack, which caused Jamie’s father to develop a deep hatred of Muslims.
So, naturally, everything goes to shit when Jamie befriends a sweet Muslim girl named Sunya. Even though the reader roots for Jamie and Sunya, they also understand how their friendship might be misconstrued as a “betrayal” against Rose. One of the more refreshing (and unexpected!) plot points in the book is the process to overcoming prejudice.
My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece is straightforward and fast-paced. At times I wished for a small break from the emotional intensity, but the book never allowed it. I guess that was purposeful.
The pool of characters was kept small, so every player in Jamie’s life was explored really thoroughly. By the end of the novel I felt like I knew everybody. And I felt especially sorry for Jas, who’s just doing her best. I appreciate you, Jas!
Not gonna lie, I teared up a couple times reading My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece. I speak from experience here, do not read this book in class. You will be on the verge of tears, and the teacher will stare at you.
My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece might be short, but it’s emotional, intense, and definitely worth the read. I’ll be checking out Annabel Pitcher’s other stuff too.