Title: My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece
Author: Annabel Pitcher
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 14, 2012 (originally published January 1, 2011 in the United Kingdom)
AR Levels: Interest Level: 4th-8th grades; Book Level: 5.2; Points: 9.0
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12860626-my-sister-lives-on-the-mantelpiece
In a nutshell: Ten-year-old Jamie has twin sisters. His sister Jasmine is 15 and going through a pink hair phase, and his sister Rose was killed by a terrorist bombing five years ago and lives in an urn on the mantelpiece. Every year his dad tries to sprinkle her ashes in the ocean, but he just can't manage to do it. It's one of the many things his mom and dad argue about with the biggest one being how his mom is leaving them for another man. Jamie's dad packs up Jamie and Jas and Rose and moves them out of London into the Lake District to start afresh, or so Jamie hopes. Now he's going to a new school he hates, trying not to provoke the classroom bully/teacher's pet, and getting frustrated with how much attention his dad pays to Rose when he barely notices Jamie and Jas. That's when Jamie meets Sunya, and it's the beginning of a beautiful friendship...but not an easy one. In fact, if his dad found out, he'd go berserk.
I'd recommend it for grades: 6th and up (for language and subject matter)
I'd recommend it to: anyone dealing with grief or tough family issues...but really just anyone (It's excellent.)
What I liked most about this book: Jamie's narration is blunt, honest, funny, and heartbreaking all at the same time. You like him by the end of the very first paragraph. While this book is mainly the story of a family and how they each individually deal with their grief, it's also about love, the intense desire to be visible, the heartache of broken promises, and friendships that look past differences. This is one of the most well-written books about grief written from the perspective of a ten-year-old that I've read in a long time, and it's also one of the best books I've read all year.
Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): For reasons that I won't go into (since that would be a spoiler), Jamie wears the same Spider-Man t-shirt for weeks on end, and soon it starts to smell a bit...adolescent boy-ish. In an act of sisterly love and acting as a substitute mom, Jas doesn't make him take it off but instead lovingly gives him a stick of deodorant and tells him he's starting to stink. It's a really sweet and funny moment. Their relationship is one of my other favorite parts of this book.
Star rating (where 5 stars is awesome and 0 stars is atrocious): 5 stars