Saturday, 9 April 2011

Book Review - My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece  by Annabel Pitcher

Release date: 1st March 2011

Amazon Summary:
Ten-year-old Jamie Matthews has just moved to the Lake District with his Dad and his teenage sister, Jasmine for a 'Fresh New Start'. Five years ago his sister's twin, Rose, was blown up by a terrorist bomb. His parents are wrecked by their grief, Jasmine turns to piercing, pink hair and stops eating. The family falls apart. But Jamie hasn't cried in all that time. To him Rose is just a distant memory. Jamie is far more interested in his cat, Roger, his birthday Spiderman T-shirt, and in keeping his new friend Sunya a secret from his dad. And in his deep longing and unshakeable belief that his Mum will come back to the family she walked out on months ago. When he sees a TV advert for a talent show, he feels certain that this will change everything and bring them all back together once and for all.

  My mum loved this book. It's rare she says she loves a book, and she's a bigger reader than me. So I think I expected big, cry-inducing, things from this book. So I’m just gonna put this out there- I didn’t love this book. 

 I remember reading books like these when I was a child, where these children have less than perfect childhoods for whatever reason and I never understood their actions or reasons for thinking the way they did. So there you have it, I didn’t ‘get’ the story. 

 I found the book a bit of an effort to read without wanting to throw it down annoyance. I know it's a YA book and I'm reading it with an adult's perspective, but I remember being Jamie's age clearly. I remember my 10th birthday too, which wasn't a barrel a laughs either, and I remember understanding things more than Jamie seemed to. But then I suppose your emotional growth will be stunted with parents like his.

 We meet Jamie just as he is about to move to the Lake District with his Dad and sister, Jasmine. The family have been falling apart since Jasmine’s twin sister, Rose, is killed by a terrorist bomb and Jamie’s Mum has left them to be with someone else. With his Dad drinking too much, Jamie hopes this move will change things for the better.

 When he gets to the Lake District, nothing changes. His Dad keeps drinking, Jasmine is never around and the only seat left in his new class at school is next to a Muslim girl, Sunya. He feels like he’s betraying his Dad by sitting next to her, and then she becomes his best friend.

 The whole story is from Jamie’s point of view and sees him coping with very adult issues because his parents have selfishly stopped being parents and have started obsessing over themselves because they lost a child, meanwhile forgetting they’ve still got two other children that need loving and protection. Jamie thinks that in doing certain things that it will bring his Mum back and make his Dad stop drinking, not completely realising that it’s beyond his control. Sunya, in some form of understanding what was happening to him, tries to make his life a little better by being his friend, even when Jamie, at first, repeatedly tries to keep her away from him.

 Whilst I wanted to see this story for what it was- how a family copes after something as devastating as this- I couldn’t. I kept blindsided with anger towards the parents of Jamie and Jasmine and I take my hat off to Annabel Pitcher for that. She may not have gotten my love for this story, but she certainly got my respect for making me feel so angry about these characters that I wanted to just shake them and tell them that Rose wasn’t their only child. Not many people can make me feel so passionately like that, even if I wasn’t uplifted by the story.

 I cannot deny that Pitcher can write a story that makes you feel a range of emotions though, so I look forward to seeing what she comes up with in future books, but this one is definitely not a keeper for me.

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