August 30, 2012

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece - Annabel Pitcher

Pages: 224
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 14, 2012

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.

This is a very unique story told by the very unique voice of a 10 year-old, who deals with issues way beyond his years. I'm not sure if it's shelved as middle grade or not, but it felt more for teens or adults. It has a lot of dark and sad content with a level of maturity higher than the character's age. 

Jamie's older sister was the victim of a terrorist attack when he was just five, so he barely remembers Rose. And his family has fallen apart. His father's hate and sadness is most of the darkness in the book. To be completely honest, while I really enjoyed the originality of the story, it felt heavily depressing at times. I struggled with the situation til the very last page, I felt I needed to reach out and pull this poor kid from his awful life. 

The prose was flawless, and the voice was very fresh and the characters were vivid and utterly believable. The story itself was extremely believable, and that's part of what depressed me a bit, that I know that kids live like this and worse, and I'm not sure I want to be reminded of that. But then came the last chapter and the very last words and the joy of those moments made it all worth it. 

Overall, I would recommend this for the older crowd, Young Adults. I think it might be too much to deal for a middle grader. But it is a very compelling read, very well woven, and enjoyable for those who enjoy darkish stories.

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