Once upon a time, Jamie had twin sisters – but that was before the bombing. Since then, the fairytale has changed, and his family has become disjointed.
Now, his mum lives in London; while he and his sister (Rose’s twin) live with their alcoholic father – with Rose’s cremation urn on their mantelpiece.
‘My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece’ is told from the perspective of 10 year old Jamie, as he struggles to settle into a new school; dealing with bullying issues and the impacts of the family’s horrendous past. Clearly, Dad still struggles with the loss of a child; and Rose’s twin, Jasmine, reveals her own issues along the way.
Jamie is ever-hopeful that his mum will return, and take family life back to normal. In the meantime, one of his only friends at school is Sunya – a girl with Muslim heritage. It is hard for Jamie, in his childhood innocence, to understand why this might be a problem for his father to deal with.
So Jamie hatches a plan – one which will bring Mum back to the family, even though she already seems to have missed some of the most important family events in the last year. Jasmine is reluctant to get on board with his plans, but may be convinced to help out. And what about Sunya – will she understand that Jamie is not like his father? and would her parents also forgive Jamie for his father’s intolerances?
Lots of issues are reflected in this tale – told without driving to a fairy tale ending. It’s a well written debut novel for Annabel Pitcher – I’m just not sure about any of the cover images I’ve seen yet. Will they grab the audience they need?
Engaging, sad, reflective. What do you think?