My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is a powerful tale of how grief and loss affects those who are left behind.
Ten year-old Jamie was only five when his sister, Rose, was killed. He doesn’t really remember her, and as such, does not grieve for her in the way her twin sister, Jasmine and his mum and dad do. Grief has torn their family apart. The parents despise each other and Jas doesn’t quite know how to cope being the remaining half of a missing pair.
Sadly, for both Jamie and Jas, the pain of losing one of their children, and the nature of her death, has so badly affected the parents, they are unable to move on, and neither can seem to get their head around the fact they have two remaining children who need them, focusing more of their attention on their dead daughter’s ashes that reside on the mantelpiece.
Moving to the Lake District, with their father, away from London and for a new start, does not seem to be working out in the way it had promised. Jas is left in charge of Jamie and the house while their dad squanders his days lying in a drunken stupor – their mother left the three of them and cannot even seem to bear keeping in touch at all. Meanwhile, Jamie, is trying to cope with bullying at school and a never-ending hope that his mum will come to visit him.
The nature of Rose’s death hangs over the family. She was killed in a terrorist attack, and as such, her father has become a bitter, racist, blaming all Muslims for what happened. For Jamie, this becomes an increasingly confusing problem, when he finds out the only friend he has made at school, Sunya, a girl who is also severely bullied, happens to be a Muslim, and he does not know what to do.
Jamie has an elaborate plan to get his mum and dad’s attention and show them they have two children still living. It could be time for them to let Rose go.
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is suitable for children aged 9+. It has powerful themes and isn’t a lighthearted read, but it’s a beautifully written story and one in which I would definitely recommend.
If you enjoy my book reviews, you may like to see what other books I’ve recommended.