Summary and book reviews of Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Ketchup Clouds

By Annabel Pitcher

Ketchup Clouds
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  • Hardcover: Nov 2013,
    272 pages.

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Book Summary

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 knows 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 second 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.

Excerpt
Ketchup Clouds

S. Harris #993765
Polunsky Unit (Death Row)
Livingston, TEXAS 77351
USA
August 1

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.
The jam in the corner's from my sandwich. Homemade raspberry. Gran made it. She's been dead seven years, and making that jam was the last thing she did. Sort of. If you ignore the weeks she spent in the hospital attached to one of those heart things that goes beep beep if you're lucky or beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep if you're not. That was the sound echoing around the hospital room seven years ago. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. My little sister was born six months later, and Dad named her after Gran. Dorothy Constance. When Dad stopped grieving, he decided to shorten it. My sister is small and round so we ended up calling her Dot. ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

With an obvious understanding of the adolescent heart and a gift for natural dialogue, Pitcher conveys Zoe’s yearning to be an adult and how it feels to fall in love for the first time … [She] successfully captures the real complexity and overblown drama of being an adolescent, and she certainly brought me back to memories I thought I had long since forgotten.   (Reviewed by Elena Spagnolie).

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Media Reviews
The Horn Book

Sharp, articulate perceptions and a measure of suspense-as well as a lively thread of wit and humor-make this a very engaging read.

School Library Journal

[T]his title will be enjoyed by teens seeking edgy, realistic fiction with elements of romance and suspense.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Zoe's introspective and surprisingly humorous voice will strike a chord with readers as they dwell on the space between guilt and innocence.

Booklist

Starred Review. [Annabel Pitcher] deals with the topic realistically without losing sight of hope.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. After many red herrings, a bittersweet ending brings compassion and answers to Zoe's dilemma and shows just how easy it is to make mistakes and how hard love can be.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Compelling and believable...by turns heartbreaking and hysterically funny...

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Prison Pen Pal Programs

In Annabel Pitcher's YA novel, Ketchup Clouds, the protagonist, a fifteen-year-old English girl who uses the pseudonym "Zoe," tells her story through secret letters she writes to a death row inmate. Mr. S. Harris lives thousands of miles away in Houston, Texas and is one of the only people who might understand Zoe's situation; he knows what it's like to have killed someone he loves. She uses these letters as a way of confessing her guilty conscience:

…I knew it was time to write this letter. I can't keep it in anymore. I have to tell someone, and you're the person I chose. I got your contact details off a Death Row website, and I found the website because of a nun, and that's not a sentence I ever thought I'd write, but then my ...

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