“I thought how nice it would be to pick up the phone… and order a different life as if it was a pizza or something. I’d ask for a dad who didn’t drink and a mum who hadn’t left….” Clearly, 10-year-old Jamie could use a new life. Things weren’t always this bad. But five years ago his older sister, Rose (who was 10 at the time) was killed in a terrorist attack. In many ways, her entire family died with her: Mom runs off with a man she met in her grief support group; Dad pays more attention to Rose’s ashes than his living children; Jas – Rose’s twin – does her best to look after her little brother; and Jamie… Jamie will break your heart.
Months go by with no contact from Mom until, finally, she sends him a Spiderman shirt. It’s too big, but Jamie adores it and, despite being teased and bullied, refuses to take it off… until she sees him in it.
More months go by. Mom’s still a no-show; Dad barely functions, and still cannot part with Rose’s ashes; and Jamie struggles to keep his Muslim friend, Sunya (a terrific character in her own right) a secret from his father.
It’s amazing to think this is Pitcher’s debut novel. She tackles death, prejudice, grieving, and terrorism brilliantly and deftly by allowing us to see it all through Jamie’s innocent eyes. Despite the heartbreak, Pitcher provides just enough humor, happiness and hope to help Jamie – and the reader – muddle through. This award-winning book is an outstanding read, already followed by a second award-winning book, Pitcher is definitely a writer to watch.