Monday 12 November 2012

KETCHUP CLOUDS by Annabel Pitcher

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.

When I received a copy of this book last week, I didn't know anything about it. It looked like a very pretty hardback book with lovely drawings and a very interesting blurb. It turned out to contain a beautiful story within its pages.
Zoe--although that's not her real name--has a huge and very dark secret. She's done something really bad. So bad that the guilt has been eating her up inside. She needs to tell someone what led to the event that ruined her life. So when she finds an inmate on a Death Row website, she decides to tell him her story. Stuart Harris is a man who murdered his wife, and is now going to pay for it with his life. So she's pretty sure he'll understand.
After I finished reading the book, I realised that Zoe choosing this man was no accident. For many reasons.
So, Zoe embarks on telling her story by sneaking into the shed and writing a series of letters in the middle of the night. In these letters she tells him what's going on in her life, while going back to where the trouble began. Each letter is about a boy called Aaron and his brother Max. All about how without intending to, she got caught up in a very messy love triangle. 
It all starts innocently enough but as the story progresses, Zoe gets herself so deep into the lies she's fabricated that they're bound to explode. All of her personal problems are only made worse by her family life--her father has lost his job and is concerned about his ill father, her mother is obsessed with her youngest daughter's loss of hearing and tries to control everything, her sister Soph is making things up, and the youngest, Dot, is absolutely adorable. And very funny. While her parents constantly fight, Zoe finds a way to escape, and in turn reaches a horrible climax.
Ketchup Clouds is an amazing book! I was hooked from the very beginning. It's funny, crude, honest, adorable, frustrating, beautiful, and sad. So sad. Actually, it's heartbreaking in places. This moving tale of a teenage girl making one wrong decision after another, and therefore forfeiting the happiness and love she craves so much, was beautiful. So well written.
I loved every second of this book. It took me by surprise, in the best possible way.

Ketchup Clouds, November 2012, ISBN 9781780620305, Indigo

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