Title: Ketchup Clouds
Author: Annabel Pitcher
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Release Date: November 12, 2013
Source: ARC from Publisher
Dear Mr. S. Harris,Ignore the blob of red in the top left corner. It's jam, not blood, though I don't think I need to tell you the difference. It wasn't your wife's jam the police found on your shoe…Zoe has an unconventional pen pal--Mr. Stuart Harris, a Texas Death Row inmate and convicted murderer. But then again, Zoe has an unconventional story to tell. A story about how she fell for two boys, betrayed one of them, and killed the other.Hidden away in her backyard shed in the middle of the night with a jam sandwich in one hand and a pen in the other, Zoe gives a voice to her heart and her fears after months of silence. Mr. Harris may never respond to Zoe's letters, but at least somebody will know her story--somebody who nows what it's like to kill a person you love. Only through her unusual confession can Zoe hope to atone for her mistakes that have torn lives apart, and work to put her own life back together again.Rising literary star Annabel Pitcher pens a captivating novel, rich with her distinctive balance between humor and heart. Annabel explores the themes of first love, guilt, and grief, introducing a character with a witty voice and true emotional resonance.
Before an e-mail popped up about it in my inbox, I hadn't really heard of Annabel Pitcher or of Ketchup Clouds. But after reading the synopsis, I was intrigued and I wanted to know more. And so I read the book and found myself to be pleasantly surprised.
The past year hasn't exactly been normal for Zoe. After having fallen for two brothers and losing both in different ways, Zoe is having some trouble keep ing together. To deal with it all, Zoe decides to start writing letters to Stuart Harris, a death row inmate halfway around the world. As she recounts the last year of her life in her letters, Zoe starts to come to terms with everything that's happened. She learns to deal and accept the guilt, realizing that eventually, you just have to let it all go.
I love being surprised by books, and that's exactly what happened with Ketchup Clouds. What initially drew me in to the book was my own curiosity: I read the synopsis and it left me with this desire to find out more. I mean, the concept was interesting to say the least. I was curious about how a story written in the form of letters to a death row inmate would work. And it was as interesting as it promised to be. This was a story that was really honest: there wasn't much that wasn't said. It hunk the way the story was set up just made it easier for Zoe to tell that story. It's not for nothing they say it's sometimes easier to talk to a stranger than someone you know well. But as honest as the story was, there was also an element of mystery involved. From the start, I knew that one of the Morgan boys wouldn't make it, but I didn't know which one. And throughout, there were indications that it could have been either one of them. So in large part, what kept me reading was my need to know which boy died and which one survived. I just had to know. And I wanted to know how he died, because even though Zoe said she killed him. She just didn't strike me as the kind of person who would be able to kill.
Zoe was really interesting and different. She was so completely host in her letters to Stuart. She wasn't shy in the least when it came to sharing her story with him. And I guess for her it was kind of a therapeutic experience: it was her way of letting go of her grief and her guilt. Reading her story, my heart went out to Zoe. There was so much I would have wanted to tell her if I could have. The one thing that kind of rubbed me the wrong way about Zoe was how she got involved with both Morgan brothers…at the same time. Admittedly, Aaron and Max each had something working in their favour, and I could see why Zoe would be attracted to both of them. And in the end, it was all kind of tragic. I can't exactly say it was a happy ending since it was pretty much the complete opposite of that. But it was what it was and I liked that everything didn't end perfectly.
Annabel Pitcher's Ketchup Clouds was a very surprising read. I didn't know what to expect when I started reading, but I liked what I got. It was a story that had just the right balance of wit and tragedy. And like me, this book might just take you by surprise.