Monday, October 15, 2012

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

Jamie has just moved to a new town with his dad and sister Jas and he is hoping for a new start.  Jasmine's twin sister Rose was killed by a terrorist's bomb five years before.  Her death has destroyed the family with his parents disagreeing on how to dispose of her remains, eventually divorcing, and his father spending most of his days drunk and filled with hatred about Muslims.  Jamie barely remembers Rose and doesn't even miss her.  At his new school he is seated next to Sunya who wears a hijab.  Sunya is the only person who talks to Jamie and admires the Spider Man tee shirt he wears every day.  Jamie finds himself becoming friends with Sunya and telling her secrets he has never shared with anyone else.  But he's also torn because he knows his father would not approve of his friendship with Sunya.  This is a complex, deep book.  There is a great deal more going on than I have included in my description - issues with Jamie's mom, bullying at school, Jasmine's rebellion and grief, an attempt to reunite their parents - but all of it is woven together seamlessly.  I knew something big was likely to happen at the end of the book but that didn't stop me from sobbing for about 15 minutes after it did.  But even there, what I had predicted wasn't what actually happened.