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Publishers Weekly Review
In this powerfully honest, quirkily humorous debut novel, first published in the U.K., 10-year-old narrator Jamie and his family are still dealing with his sister Rose's death in a terrorist bombing five years earlier. After Rose's twin, Jas, stakes her independence by dying her hair pink on her 15th birthday, the family falls apart-their mother runs off with another man, and their alcoholic father moves from London to the Lake District with the children, where he lavishes attention on Rose's urn. (In one of many heartbreaking details, Rose's parents cremated part of their daughter's remains and buried the rest, a devastating metaphor for the family's ongoing inability to handle the tragedy.) Jamie's pivotal friendship with a Muslim girl, Sunya, is a standout. Pitcher tackles grief, prejudice, religion, bullying, and familial instability through the unsentimental voice of a boy who loves Spider-Man and Manchester United, misses his mother, and-truth be told-doesn't remember his dead sister all that well. The adults in Pitcher's story may be a mess, but the kids are all right. Ages 12-up. Agent: Catherine Clarke, Felicity Bryan Literary Agency. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up-Five years ago, Jamie's sister Rose was killed in a terrorist bombing, and his family has since crumbled. An urn containing Rose's ashes is an ever-present reminder of the tragedy. Jamie, 10, doesn't remember Rose, and would rather play football or watch Spiderman than dwell on her death. Looming larger are his mother's absence, his father's alcoholism, and his sister's disorder. At his new school, Jamie becomes the target of a cruel bully. The one bright spot in the boy's life is his friendship with classmate Sunya, a delightful Muslim girl who sticks up for him and shares his love of superheroes. But even this causes conflict, because weren't Muslims responsible for the bombing that killed his sister and shattered his family? Jamie chooses to see past his father's unrealistic prejudice with the hope of having his first loyal friend. The ending isn't perfect, but Jamie's family does learn to better manage their grief and face other problems that have been tearing them apart. Annabel Pitcher's compelling tale (Little, Brown 2012) authentically presents death, friendship, prejudice, and other complex issues as experienced through a child's unique-and sometimes naive-perspective. Situations ring painfully true, and the characters are exceptionally well-drawn, particularly Jamie and Sunya. Narrator David Tennant sounds too mature to portray young Jamie, and he does little to vary his voice for other characters. Tinkling piano music between chapters distracts from the story. The print version of this book is a must-have, but skip the audiobook.-Alissa Bach, Oxford Public Library, MI (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*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 naivete 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.--Dean, Kara Copyright 2010 Booklist