Book Review: Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Ketchup Clouds"Secrets, romance, murder and lies: Zoe shares a terrible secret in a letter to a stranger on death row in this second novel from the author of the bestselling debut, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.

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 humour, 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."

Genre: YA, Contemporary Romance
Published: November 2012
Pages: 320 (paperback)

Zoe is a young girl who is trying to figure out the world. She is not sure of what she feels and what she wants, but there is one thing she is certain of: she killed a guy. This mystery is something that you will have to wait for to unlock itself, as the story builds up to it. Or better said: as Zoe's letters build up to that moment. Because this novel is written is an odd letter form. Every chapter is a new letter to a prisoner named Stuart Harris, but only the introduction to the events that she describes is in letter form. The rest of her story is told in a normal way.

Zoe is young and can therefore be quite ignorant, just like every other teenager. We meet two boys: Max and Aaron, who are brothers. Zoe hangs out with both of them and is kind of together with Max, but she prefers Aaron and his mysterious character. This book is definitely not your every day romance story, it's more than that. In the very beginning of the book, Zoe talks as if it's not a big deal at all, but as her story continues, she gets more and more personal.
We get to know more about her, her friends, the two boys and her own family, but we never ever get to read the other letters. We never find out whether Stuart actually receives the letters, let alone reads them. We don't know if he answers any of her letters, because Zoe never speaks of it. She simply uses her letters as a way of dealing with the tragedy that happened. She can't talk to anyone else and therefore puts all of her emotions in those letters.

Her relationship with her mother, the two brothers and Stuart are a bit odd. Especially the one with the imprisoner, as we learn that Zoe never blames him for anything. She only feels sorry for him and always tells him so.

The only thing that was on my mind while reading this book was: 'What the hell happened that can be so tragical for a 15-year-old girl?'
The answer to what actually happened clears everything up and makes sense, but I also felt as if Zoe got a bit melodramatic at times.

But, I did enjoy the book and somehow I managed to read it in one day, even though I barely had any time on my hands.. I didn't always agree with the writing style of the writer, but maybe that was because it is written from the perspective of a young girl, and that is not something I'm used to.
It's an original story with a good ending, but it has its flaws. Nevertheless, it's definitely worth reading. I gave it 4 out 5 stars on Goodreads!

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