Rambling about books

Book review: My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, by Annabel Pitcher


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. Goodreads.

Book cover from Goodreads

If guilt was an animal it would be an octopus. All slimy and wriggly with hundreds of arms that wrap around your insides and squeeze them tight.

When I first saw this book, two things came to my mind; it’s either this book is some quirky book or really a dark and tragic (most probably traumatic) book. I thought it was the former rather than the latter, judging the fact that this was a children’s book. There could be no way someone would write a dark and tragic (most probably traumatic) book for children. Boy, was I incredibly wrong.

Surely, judging from the cover and the nice colour scheme, who would have thought that I would be bawling my eyes out on an airplane as I was reading this book? I sure didn’t expect to cry. This cover is totally a death trap for my fragile heart.

I’m going to cut to the chase, I cried reading this book. Proper tears were flowing down my eyes because of this book. I had to pretend that I was yawning badly that tears were falling down my eyes. There could be a number of reasons as to why someone would cry had they read this book; (1) the tragic back story as to how this sister of the main protagonist ends up living on the mantelpiece (although the cover should already be a dead giveaway), (2) the totally way too descriptive of that particular part about what happened to Roger and the following events (yes, I’m not going to tell you what it is; I’m not even going to tell you who Roger is, you’ll need to read the book to know more), (3) the aftermath of what had happened to the sister ended up living on the mantelpiece, or (4) the tragic story of trying to be seen for who you really are, as opposed to be someone else (or for that matter, just to be seen and not overlooked). As for why I cried, it was reason number two.

Dark but insightful. Heart wrenching and thought provoking. Above all, it was a simple storytelling turned deep.

The magnificent thing about this story is how simple and yet deep the storytelling was. The story was told through the eyes of our protagonist (who, if I may remind you, is just 10 years old). As you see his world through his eyes and his storytelling, you’ll notice how simple life can be for a 10 year old, at the same time the simplicity of that is insightful and thought provoking. You’ll see the progress and the changes that occur in Jamie’s life, from not understanding his father to acknowledging the pain of losing someone so dear and not wanting to let go (oops, there goes a bit of a spoiler).

Good storytelling will not be good if the characters are bland and boring. Yes, there were quite a few bland and predictable (not to mention frustrating) characters, but it’s not enough to cloud the amazing person Jamie is. Sunya was notably a very unique and entertaining character and was an enjoyable counterpart to Jamie’s personality.

A total recommend, only if you’re okay with possibly crying in public.

If you have a fragile heart and couldn’t handle a delicate story, I might not recommend this book. Not for fear that you wouldn’t like it, but for fear that you would bawled up in tears in the middle of reading this. But, if you have no problem in crying enthusiastically over such heart wrenching story, then be my guest, I totally recommend this book.

Title: My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece

Author: Annabel Pitcher

Genre: Children’s book, Contemporary, Fiction, Realistic fiction, Young adult


Goodreads link


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