Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Sister Lives On the Mantelpiece

By Annabel Pitcher
3 / 5 Gnomes
A summary is 10 words or less:  An uber-sad story about a tragic, dysfunctional family and Spiderman.

To ten-year-old Jamie, his family has fallen apart because of the loss of someone he barely remembers: his sister Rose, who died five years ago in a terrorist bombing. To his father, life is impossible to make sense of when he lives in a world that could so cruelly take away a ten-year-old girl. To Rose's surviving fifteen year old twin, Jas, everyday she lives in Rose's ever present shadow, forever feeling the loss like a limb, but unable to be seen for herself alone.

Told with warmth and humor, this powerful novel is a sophisticated take on one family's struggle to make sense of the loss that's torn them apart... and their discovery of what it means to stay together. 

~Amazon Description~

Let's talk for a minute.  I consider myself a pretty open reader.  I like to try new things, experience different points of view, be taken to exotic locations, experience without having to experience.  I like different.  I like funny, smart, and yes, I like to cry.  I actually like the occasional blubber, but dear heavens this was a hard book.

It was so hard that I have to skip "The Awesome", "Not So Awesome" portion of my usual reviews because I'm still trying to figure out how I feel.  It's as if time has stopped for Jamie and Jas.  The loss of their sister was horribly tragic, but they also lost their parents that day as well.  Their mother abandons them, and their father drinks himself into oblivion.  The "new start" he promises brings more hardship in a strange town.

In summary, the book is more depressing than the title would suggest, and that's pretty much as depressing as it gets.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the sliver of hope you're left with at the ending isn't quite enough to leave you feeling good, relieved that the family has taken a step in the right direction.  That's why I think I'm still thinking, trying to wrap my emotions around what I just read.  Death, abandonment, alcoholism, racism, was filled cover to cover with really hard stuff.

On a happy note, Sunya, Jamie's only school friend, is the most awesome part of the entire book.  She's rambunctious, courageous, and a prankster genius.  Her superhero strength carries Jamie throughout the book until he's able to stand on his own two feet.  I loved her loyalty and perseverance, and wish she was my friend too!

If you're looking for a book that makes you think, makes you cry, and endears you to the courage of young children, check out My Sister Lives On the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher.

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