“My sister lives on the mantelpiece” Annabel Pitcher

ARC (Advanced Reading Copy). This U.S. version will be published August 14, 2012. (UK version published March 2011.) Little, Brown and Company. (Hachette Book Group). 211 pp.

Jamie is 10 years old and wonders why his life can’t be normal. His 15 year old sister Jas tries to take care of him as best she can since their mom abandoned the family for another man. Their lives didn’t used to be this way but, ever since Jas’ twin sister Rose was killed in a London terrorist bombing 5 years ago, everything changed. His dad had her cremated and has her ashes on their mantelpiece. He has forgotten his living children in favor of mourning over a dead one, and blames all Muslims for the bombing. He forbids his children from associating with them, not knowing that Sunya, a young Muslim girl at Jamie’s school, is his only friend.

Constantly bullied at school, missing his mother, confused about his feelings for Sunya, and not understanding his dad’s behavior or Jas’ rebellious ways, Jamie retreats into fantasies of living his life as Spider Man. Wishing for bravery, and for the family to be reunited, his only bright spots are the times he spends with Sunya. Through pain comes growth and, as time passes and life settles into a not-so-pleasant routine, Jamie realizes there are things that can be changed and things that can’t.

Readers aged 9-12 will learn with him that if one feels strongly enough about something, sometimes it’s possible to make the changes one needs but to do so they may need to be braver than they ever thought they could be.

 

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