Saturday, November 16, 2013

Review: Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Title: Ketchup Clouds
Author: Annabel Pitcher
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release date: November 12th 2013
Pages: 272
Genre: Young Adult contemporary mystery
Source: Bought
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon
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.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 I hate when I don't have the time to read and take forever finishing a book that I could have loved so much more if I had read it all in one sitting, and that is exactly what happened with Ketchup Clouds. I read this over the course of three weeks (blame the start of the semester), and I never enjoy books I read slowly as much as ones I read within a couple of days. That's why it's so impressive that, despite taking forever to read it, I liked this book so much - I always looked forward to going back to it, and I loved every part of it.

The set-up of Ketchup Clouds is great. I'm not always a fan of books written in letters, but this one definitely works. I found the idea of Zoe confessing her story to Mr. Harris fascinating, and I wish we could have found out even more about Mr. Harris' fate, even though that wouldn't really have worked with the set-up of the story. I do love, though, how this set-up causes for such a suspenseful way of telling the story: we go back and forth between present and past, giving the reader just enough information to be intrigued but not enough to understand what really happened until the very end. The mystery aspect adds a lot to the story.

I loved going in not knowing anything about what Zoe did, so I'm going to try not to spoil anything (even though the back description of the American edition already gives away too much, in my opinion). I did love the story of Zoe's secret, though - her confessions are well-done, honest, and captivating. Annabel Pitcher managed to create the perfect balance of feeling for Zoe and understanding her despite her wrongdoings, and dreading what is going to happen and hating past-Zoe for not doing more to prevent it.

Asides from the serious, murder mystery aspect of the novel, Ketchup Clouds reads like an honest portrayal of Zoe's regular teenage life. I really liked the romance - the basic set-up is somewhat cliched, but the unusual circumstances surrounding it make it work. One of my favorite aspects of the novel is the family storyline: Zoe's relationship with her two younger sisters is adorable, and I loved the greater theme of the family issues as well.

Ketchup Clouds is the emotional, honest, engagingly written portrayal of a guilt-ridden girl telling her story in the only way she can. I loved it, and I can't wait to read more from Annabel Pitcher!


  1. Someone from Goodreads recommended this book to me last year and it has been on my TBR shelf since. The description of the book caught my attention and as always, I tend to fall in love with books that are able to make me tear up so I'm really looking forward to read this one. I'm glad you enjoyed it I can't wait to read this myself.


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