Top positive review
on 9 August 2014
My daughters review:
My Sister Lives On The Mantlepiece is set five years after the 9/11 bombings and is told in the perspective of ten year old Jamie, whose sister sadly died in one of the London attacks. After the death of his sister, Rose, Jamie's whole family has fallen apart. His mum and dad argued so much over Rose's death that in the end the two of them split, leaving Jamie with a drunk dad, a runaway mum and a heartbroken sister, Jas, who was twins with Rose. Jamie, being only ten, hasn't yet felt the heartbreak over his sisters death, and truthfully - he's more annoyed by it. Annoyed at how his family continue to suffer when Rose is no longer there. Annoyed with how he doesn't seem to exist when someone talks about Rose. And he's also annoyed by the ongoing racism that his father distributes towards Muslims because of the attacks. Jamie's had enough of it all and things get even worse when he moves to the Lake District, away from London, to a new school. With no friends, Jamie just relies on his cat for comfort, but inevitably Jamie finds new found comfort in a young girl named Sunya who is in fact, a Muslim. Jamie struggles with balancing his heartbreak at home with his new torment at school and often bullies himself for allowing him to get close to a Muslim girl when 'Muslims killed Rose'. Jamie is just determined to carry on living. He doesn't miss his sister nor is he guilty about it. He just wants people to forget and accept that life comes to a shocking end, but it takes another heartbreak for that to happen.
I have read Ketchup Clouds by Annabelle Pitcher and I was amazed yet slightly disappointed because I thought it would be amazing, however My Sister Lives On The Mantlepiece was a work of art that I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved how it targeted racism towards other religions as well as highlighting the truth about the stereotypes people set today towards religions. I loved how it was written in the perspective of a ten year old boy who was supposed to be heartbroken, when in reality, he's confused and just wants to live his life. I also love how it signified the truth about broken homes and the dismantling impact that alcoholism and affairs can have on a family as well as the impact of death on a child. Annabelle has amazingly presented the theme of death and grieving beautifully and has shown signs how it effects different people by subtly mentioning it.
I think the layout of the novel is amazing as well, as it is written without any speech marks and whenever someone talks, it is in italics. I believe this is due to the idea of it being a conscious stream of thought from Jamie which makes perfect sense and allows you to understand the mind of a ten year old. There were a few swear words which kinda shocked me considering that they were supposedly ten, however, I think it highlights the area and the upbringing of the children. It allows you to see whose nasty and whose nice without being forceful and making you believe certain things. I also love how Annabelle added things that normal ten year olds would say, like comparing things to super heroes and stuff, because this makes you remember what Jamie's age actually is and allows you to rethink what he's going through and be more emotionally connected.
I also love how at the end, there is a small segment called Jasmine which allows you to read how Jas, Rose's twin, is coping with the death of her twin. And it's amazing how she appears to be really strong on the outside when in reality she is hiding a few things and trying to cope on her own. I think this is a really nice touch and compels you for a short amount of time.
Overall, the story is amazing, the plot is hard. It's honest and serious but with hints of humour. I think it can be relatable in the way of a broken home, bullying, death and alcoholism, which are all strong subjects that need to be covered, but Annabelle does it without making it too dramatic or too packed with drama. The story is enticing and compelling. It's really gentle to read too because the vocabulary is colloquial towards a ten year old. It definitely tickles your emotions and makes you wonder a few things. A brilliant story!