Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, by Annabel Pitcher

I absolutely loved Annabel Pitcher's debut novel, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece! I can't wait to see what's next from this author!

I found the premise of the novel so uniquely interesting and morbid that I was pulled in from the opening line: 

"My sister lives on the mantelpiece. Well, some of her does. Three of her fingers, her right elbow and her kneecap are buried in a graveyard in London," (1).

The novel's narrator is a 10-year old boy named Jaime, and his older sister Rose was tragically killed in a terrorist attack in London. Rose's twin, Jasmine (Jas), and Jaime, are all but forgotten as their parents mourn the loss of their beloved daughter. Ultimately, the parents, unable to deal with the death, split up and the mom moves in with a new boyfriend. 
This is where the novel picks up - Jaime, Jas, and their dad move away from London and into the country to get away from it all. A huge part of what the father wants to get away from are the Muslims that live in London - he can't get over the fact that his daughter was killed my Muslim terrorists, and now finds himself prejudiced against all foreigners. They hope that this move will help them get over Rose's death and move on, but their alcoholic father seems totally stuck in the past.

However, the grass isn't always greener on the other side, and there is a little girl named Sunya - who happens to be Muslim - in Jaime's class. She's the only person that is nice to Jaime in his new school, and he struggles with their friendship, feeling like he is dishonoring his father by engaging with her. He's able to hide the friendship for a while, but ultimately things come to a head. 

I loved watching the characters evolve, and found myself hating the mother whole-heartedly as she all but abandoned her two surviving children. I also found the dynamic of the dead twin and the way the survivors each dealt with it intriguing. I loved this novel and felt that it really made me think, but I do feel like while it's a YA novel, it would resonate more with older people.

Here's a book trailer for the novel:

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