Book Review: Ketchup Clouds

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Author: Annabel Pitcher
Published: Indigo, 2012

Pages: 305
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, YA
Read more about it on Add it on Goodreads
3 out of 5 stars 

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Zoe is plagued with guilt. Something tragic happened and while trying to deal with this, she takes to writing letters to an inmate on death row. Through these letters we get to see the events leading up to this tragic event and what comes after.

Let me just start by saying that I do not quite know what to think about this book. It was a rollercoaster; one minute I liked the book, then I didn’t and then I did – this went on and on, that by the time the end came, I’m pretty sure I liked it…I think. Some parts of the ending were beautiful, but I still have some issues with this book.

As mentioned about, the book consists of a series of letters by Zoe (not her real name) whom starts writing to an inmate in America on death row, as a way of dealing with guilt that is gnawing at her. First of all, I thought: why is she writing to someone on death row? Death row! This is most likely some serious criminal. I can sort of get past this, but she starts telling him quite personal things about what happens between her and a boy, and then I’m like: WTF, Zoe! Why are you telling him this? I just didn’t get it, which brings me onto Zoe as a character: I’m not a huge fan. I didn’t hate her; I liked her more towards the end, but I didn’t quite understand her. She does some stupid things. She’s one of those teenagers that are smart – academically wise – and she can be a little quirky, and I get her humour, she has so much potential, but she makes some really stupid mistakes. For example, she continues things with Max after he does something that is, in my opinion, terrible. Why?  She should have told him to piss off and he would be lucky if she didn’t kick him right where it hurts.

Zoe as a character often annoyed me, but I did like her relationship with her sisters and Dot is quite a character – she’s adorable. Zoe’s love of the fact that birds can fly and the freedom that gives them is probably the thing that I could most relate to in relation to Zoe. It was good to have her parents present instead of missing like in a lot of books. A character that I did quite like was Aaron. There was something about him… I liked that he just got Zoe – isn’t that what we all want? He found himself in the middle of this really rubbish situation and although not perfect, he does have a conscience . I loved his letter at the end – probably one of my favourite parts.

“‘The noise of birds’ wings when they take off. That’s a cool sound.’
‘The sound of freedom.’
‘Precisely,’ I replied. amazed that he understood without me having to explain.'”

I did like that the book consisted of letters; I think it adds something a little different and I like reading letters. It was interesting how as the book progressed, you started to realise small things and things started to click into place and I suppose each reader may come to different conclusions – I won’t really say much more in regards to this because I don’t want to reveal anything, but I wonder if everyone will pick up on the things I did….

All in all, it is a story about family, guilt and how people deal with this and whether they are able to let it go, in order to be free once again. An interesting story – although, not necessarily very original – with a character who can get on your nerves, but a book with hidden depth, I think. Like I said: it’s very up and down.

“Light is fading and the traffic has died down and there is just me and the parrot trapped in its cage. That’s not how you’re going to live, Bird Girl. Not on my account. Spread those strong wings of yours. Fly.”

Anyone else read Ketchup Clouds? What did you think? Do you hate it when characters do things, that in your opinion, are a mistake?

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9 thoughts on “Book Review: Ketchup Clouds

  1. I do want to read this one because I’ve seen it around and YES I’M JUST SO CURIOUS. But, eh…I really hate it when characters make stupid life decisions. Like the uber obvious ones that I KNOOOOOW are going to end badly. It makes me grind my teeth a lot. XD

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  2. I have read this one and I really liked it. I am someone who generally doesn’t like books that aren’t in traditional format – so I was surprised I liked the letter format. But I agree, the main character did some really randomly ridiculous things. I really think she was writing to the inmate simply because there was no one else for her to talk to… You should try My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece by the same author. Ridiculously brilliant.

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    1. SPOILER ALERT: just in case anyone else reads this who hasn’t read the book.
      I’m not actually convinced the inmate existed. There were some similarities as to what happened with the inmate and Zoe. The inmate’s wife was called Alice and then we find out that Zoe’s real name is Alice. I can’t remember other specifics now, but there were other things I picked up on. I’m glad you liked it though.

      Thanks for the recommendation.

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