Sunday, 12 January 2014

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Ketchup CloudsFifteen-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.

I put off reading this book for months, and now that I have read it, I can't understand why I waited so long. I didn't have high expectations of this book after reading My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece - which I'll talk about in a later review-  but I decided to give Annabel Pitcher another chance, and I'm very glad that I did.

I loved how the format of letters really worked for this type of story and how each letter was split into a different part of an interwoven story of the past. Flashbacks worked brilliantly because from reading the first few pages of this book, it is very hard to understand who Zoe has killed. Pitcher has written this story perfectly in a sense that you are lead to believe that the person who dies is one of two different people, but there is constantly different messages and hints sent to you meaning that although you kind of have an idea of who will ultimately die it is near impossible to come to a decision of who you think it will be. 

The many plots within this story were all brilliant. The combination of how Zoe had to choose between two boys, one being the one she loved and one being the one that was the easy option and then the many secrets that lay within her close family, the way these two story lines were put together was great. There is this constant thing that Zoe is having to lie to the people she loves. She lies to Max because of Aaron, and she lies to her parents all the time about where she is. It's sad that Zoe isn't just able to tell her parents the truth and has to cover her tracks all the time and I think that says a lot about her relationship with her parents. There is a lot of things that her parents have kept a secret from Zoe and all of those things are revealed to be entwined with one another later on in the book. 

I thought some of the characters were very hard to understand or at least like. Particularly Zoe, which really surprised me. I thought I'd really like her character but to be honest she was just proved to be really irresponsible. From what I can gather from blurbs and information in the book etc, at the time Zoe is writing the letters, she is 15 years old. She is reflecting back on the events of a year before and so at the time of the "murder" she was actually 14. By the time I had reached page 40, the first of many sexual scenarios had taken place, and there were more of them later on, although they weren't graphic (thank God) you got the general idea, As a reminder this is all going on whilst she is 14 year old. So buy that it means that on top of the whole murder situation, Zoe was already breaking the law by doing what she is doing. As someone who is very interested in law, this book also really needs to define the difference between murder and manslaughter, because that changes a lot of things.

I liked this book and I flew through it, finding it really gripping. However I think that the ethics behind it weren't always exactly smart and reflected quite badly on teenagers in general. I know a lot of people the same age as me would do things like drink and throw parties and numerous other things but there are some of us like myself who aren't like that.I loved it, but sadly, the love wasn't enough for it to deserve the highest rating.

Holly x

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