My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece

This young adult fiction gem is a study of a family in grief. 41xR2ghaHzL

A terrorist attack in Trafalgar Square has left Jamie and Jasmine without Jasmine’s twin sister Rose.  But more has been lost than this – their mother has abandoned the family and run off with Nigel from her support group, while their father, struggling with his grief, turns to drinking to cope. Each year on the anniversary of her death, their Father attempts to scatter Rose’s ashes.  But each year he finds he is not ready to let go.  Jasmine has dyed her hair pink in an attempt to separate herself from her dead sister.  She is left as the main caregiver to her brother Jamie.  And it is Jamie who tells us this story.

Jamie has not fully processed what it means to lose a sister, and does not always understand his father’s behaviour.  He loves his sister, and believes wholeheartedly that their mother will return.  He even refuses to take off a Spiderman t-shirt he believes is a birthday present from her.

When his father moves them from London to the Lakes District he begins a new school and his only friend is a girl called Sunya – a muslim.  Sunya is bright, mischievous, brave and beautiful – and she knows just how to cheer Jamie up.  But his father would never understand.  Jamie will have to learn how to follow his own heart, and put his father back in touch with his own.  A pretty big ask for a ten-year-old boy.

This story has a number of layers and concerns – not just grief but bullying, racism and self-identity.  A terrific text to do with students.

 

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