Monday, March 18, 2013

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece

When Jamie was five, his sister died in a terrorist bombing in London.  His family was destroyed by this event, and even five years later Rose's death haunts them.  Now Jamie's parents are separated, and he has moved to the country with his sister, Jas, and their father.

Jas is Rose's twin, and their parents tried to keep Rose alive by dressing Jas the Rose always did.  One day Jas came home in black clothes and pink hair.  It didn't go over well.  Jas struggles to honor her sister while finding a way to live her own life.

Jamie's mother left the family for a man from her support group, and she hasn't even come to visit her children in their new home in the country.  Jamie hasn't given up hope that they can be a family again, but every day of his mother's absence makes Jamie feel less important.

Jamie's father blames all Muslims for what happened to his daughter and keeps Rose's ashes on the mantel where he can look at the urn and sometimes pretend Rose is still alive and sometimes be shattered by grief all over again.  While he didn't physically abandon his children, he has deserted them through his depression and alcoholism.

Everyone has always defined Jamie by his sister's death, but he sees this opportunity in a new town at a new school to redefine himself.  No one has to know about the sister he barely remembers.  But it's not that simple.  The school bully seems to single Jamie out immediately, and the only person who wants to be his friend is Sunya, a Muslim.

Annabel Pitcher's first novel deals with the aftermath of mass violence and terrorism in a tender and heartbreaking way.  Jamie's story is about the death of a family and the painful but hopeful idea that life can begin again.

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