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Thursday, 6 January 2011

My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher

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.
This book is a very good read on a subject which needs to broached in the world today. The book is told by Jamie, a boy who lives with his father and older sister. His sister had a twin sister who is killed by a terroist bomb in London. Their mother has moved in with another man and they moved with their father away to rebuild their lives.
THe book covers many subjects; the loss of a child, children living with a father following a breakdown in their parents relationship, alcohol addiction in a parent, children caring for themselves due to alcoholic parent but also racism and the feelings of a family who have lost someone due to terrorism.
The book was very well written and covered the difficult subject well. It would be an excellent book for high school children to read to enable them to understand the emotions of their elder peers on these subjects and to understand the effects it can have on the Muslims living in this country who have no involvement in the terrorist action in this country.
The book looks at the relationships within the family, the missing mother, the remaining twin, the alcoholic father and Jamie, but also at Jamie's school life, the problems he has moving to a new school and also his friendship with Sunya, a Muslim girl in his class, a friendship his father would disapprove of if he found out about it.
I was drawn into this book and really felt for Jamie - a young boy who was trying to build a new life for himself in a new area, hiding his father alcoholism, trying to make friends and the one friend he had would upset his father. I found tears in my eyes in many parts of this book - a young boy who had much on his mind, no one to talk to - the school were unaware of the family history, his teacher never knew he had a dead sister let alone an alcoholic father. An advert on television for a new talent show gives him an idea to make his mother and father proud of both him and his sister and bring his parents back together gives him something to focus on but will he be disappointed at the last minute if his sister gets stage fright??
I think this is a book both adults and young adults should read - a real eye opener on a topic that is current today in this modern world where terrorists are leaving families with relatives to mourn. There are moments of laughter and moments of tears but a book everyone should read.
Thank you to Michael from the School Run Forum for sending me the book to review.

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