My sister Rose lives on the mantelpiece.
Well, some of her does.
A collarbone, two ribs, a bit of skull, and a little toe.
To ten-year-old Jamie, his family has fallen apart because of the loss of someone he barely remembers: his sister Rose, who died five years ago in a terrorist bombing. To his father, life is impossible to make sense of when he lives in a world that could so cruelly take away a ten-year-old girl. To Rose's surviving fifteen year old twin, Jas, everyday she lives in Rose's ever present shadow, forever feeling the loss like a limb, but unable to be seen for herself alone.
Told with warmth and humor, this powerful novel is a sophisticated take on one family's struggle to make sense of the loss that's torn them apart... and their discovery of what it means to stay together.
Starred Review Readers of Pitcher’s debut should brace themselves: this book pulls no emotional punches. Jamie Matthews was five years old when his sister Rose was killed in a terrorist attack in London. While her urn on the mantelpiece dominates his family’s life, he can barely remember her, much less love her; all he knows is the wreck that her death has left behind. When his parents split, Jamie moves with his father and sister Jas—Rose’s surviving twin—and starts a new life and a new school in the Lake District. Jamie becomes friends with the clever and effervescent Sunya. But Sunya is a Muslim, and, as Jamie’s dad constantly reminds him, “Muslims killed your sister.” Jamie’s mother has abandoned him, his father is sinking into alcoholism, and he’s bullied at school—when it seems things can’t get worse, Jamie endures a personal tragedy that puts the previous five years in perspective while finally offering some solace. Just as the macabre title straddles that fine line between funny and tragic, so does this book. As a study of grief’s collateral damage, it deals with the topic realistically without losing sight of hope. Jamie is a frank narrator whose naïveté is tempered by the wisdom he acquires. He relies on his relationship with Jas for stability and eventually sets his own moral compass. An outstanding first novel. Grades 7-10. --Kara Dean
A Kirkus Best Children's Book List Selection
"Most Deftly Handled" Atlantic Wire 2012 YA/MIddle-Grade Award
"[A] striking debut. Realistic, gritty, and uplifting." (Kirkus (starred review) )
"Straddles that fine line between funny and tragic... As a study of grief's collateral damage, it deals with the topic realistically without losing sight of hope." (Booklist (starred review) )
"In this powerfully honest, quirkily humorous debut novel...Pitcher tackles grief, prejudice, religion, bullying, and familial instability." (Publishers Weekly (starred review) )
"Compelling and believable...by turns heartbreaking and hysterically funny... This is an important book that could be used in classes and book-discussion groups. Don't let it fall through the cracks." (School Library Journal (starred review) )
"It lives off the page. It has a warmth you can bask in; an honesty you can cut with a knife." (The Guardian UK )