Heartbreak and Healing

My Sister Lives On the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

First Look:

It says 10-year-old, for sure.  It’s eyecatching, and deceptively cheerful-looking, until you actually look at what IS on the mantelpiece.  Whatever you think of it, it is better than the alternate cover, which is terrifying.  I’m pretty sure that the alt cover is for a completely different book, where Jamie becomes a tiny serial killer.

Jacket Copy:

My sister Rose lives on the mantelpiece. Well, some of her does. A collarbone, two ribs, a bit of skull, and a little toe. 

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. 

Told with warmth and humor, this powerful novel is a sophisticated take on one family’s struggle to make sense of the loss that’s torn them apart… and their discovery of what it means to stay together.


No, it’s perfect as it is, and besides, I don’t know if my heart could take a sequel.

Worth Reading?

Yes, but be prepared to bawl.  Pitcher writes in a pitch-perfect 10-year-old’s voice; Jamie is engaging and sweet, so you keep reading, even when your heart is breaking.  I believe that reading this book could be quite cathartic for kids who are dealing with grief.  (Or dealing with family who is dealing with grief.)

Notable Things:

Terrible parents.  No, really, Jamie’s parents are the absolute worst.

Awesome Older Sibling!  Jas is amazing when you consider she’s only 15–she basically keeps the family together, and she has a great relationship with Jamie.

Faithful Pet!  Roger is Jamie’s cat, and provides a lot of comfort when the world doesn’t make sense.

 Interfaith Friendship!  Jamie becomes friends with the only Muslim student in his class.  His father would not approve (although Jamie’s family is not particularly devout, Muslim terrorists are responsible for Rose’s death), but Jamie can’t help being friends with the fun girl who is also the only person in the class to accept him.


I can’t help mentioning the one thing that might be a trigger for some people, but since it’s a major spoiler, highlight to read: Roger dies tragically, which helps Jamie understand his family’s grief.  It’s super sad, and I was bawling while clutching my own kitty closely.  So much tragedy, but it didn’t depress me completely.  There’s enough hope sprinkled in to keep you from slitting your wrists.  As mentioned above, it could be a cathartic read for those who are dealing with grief, especially the grief of others.  I would not have picked this book up were it not for my book club, but I’m very glad I did, as it was a surprisingly sweet and poignant read.


Borrowed, because although it’s good, I’m not sure I want to reread it.


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