Author: Annabel Pitcher
Title: Ketchup Clouds
Audience: Teens/Young Adults
Genres: Mystery, Romance
Published: November 2012
Fifteen-year-old Zoe has a secret—a dark and terrible secret that she can’t confess to anyone she knows. But then one day she hears of a criminal, Stuart Harris, locked up on death row in Texas. Like Zoe, Stuart is no stranger to secrets. Or lies. Or murder.
Full of heartache yet humor, Zoe tells her story in the only way she can—in letters to the man in prison in America. Armed with a pen, Zoe takes a deep breath, eats a jam sandwich, and begins her tale of love and betrayal.
Ketchup Clouds is written so brilliantly – each chapter is a new letter to a prisoner on death row. I found it quite strange that I really like the letters style so much, as when I have previously tried to read books in a similar style, I just couldn’t get into them. Despite the fact that some letters are written weeks and weeks apart, and that it switches between the past and the present, the story flows incredibly well and you get a great description of how Zoe’s life was and how it is now. I didn’t feel like there was too much emphasis on the before and after, and not much focus on the actual mystery – the mystery was carried all the way through, and you got an insight into how each character dealt with a situation.
This book was definitely a page turner for me, mostly because I needed to know what Zoe’s ‘dark and terrible secret’ was. The mystery element is what made me purchase the book, but I think the romance played a large part in making read this book, in under 24 hours, too. Going into this book, I was really expecting a dark, heavy, intense, sad book – not much of the teenage romance element. But, as soon as I got into the book, I couldn’t stop reading – the lives’ of the characters were just too endearing to even consider taking a break.
Zoe’s character is 15, but I feel like the way she is written gives the impression she is a couple of years younger. Being only 16 myself, I didn’t know anyone really that spoke this way when I was 15 last year. I stopped noticing when I really got into the storyline after the first few chapters, but to start with it was almost distracting, thinking about how strange it was to imagine a teenager of her age speaking the way she did.
It’s really hard to write this without spoiling anything, because the blurb really doesn’t go into much detail at all. And thinking about it, maybe that actually plays a part in why I love the book so much; there were so many unexpected characters and events that shocked and thrilled me. But I have to say: this book made me cry, like actual, real, salty teardrops rolling over my cheeks. I was so emotionally invested in the lives’ of the characters, I really didn’t want the book to end!
Star Rating: ★★★★☆
Listen to this: Down By The River by Milky Chance
If you’ve read it, you’ll know how incredibly perfect this song is for the book.