Review: Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Annabel Pitcher does not shy away from difficult topics in her writing. Her first novel, ‘My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece’ deals with the aftermath of a terrorist attack on a family who lost a daughter, and in ‘Ketchup Clouds’ a girl writes to a prisoner on Death Row about her role in the death of a friend. In her letters Zoe lets loose all her guilt and her grief, each letter bringing us deeper and deeper into her story – how guilty she feels, how problems are developing in her family, and how she is torn between two brothers. Zoe is quite a quirky narrator and while she is obviously flawed, it is hard not to like her, and while the reader may not always agree with her actions we can understand them.

I loved how the book was structured, the letters allowing Zoe to confide her darkest secrets in Mr Harris, and by extension in the reader. Having him as the ‘penpal’ is a very interesting move. Zoe could have easily written a diary, or written a series of letters just to vent her feelings. The fact she is writing to a murderer adds a whole new layer to the story and makes the reader think about blame, and punishment. Should Mr Harris be killed for his crime? And should Zoe be punished for her role in her friend’s death? An endearing love story, a painful account of guilt and loss, and a chilling show of the consequences of our actions, this book is a worthwhile and thought provoking read.

Review originally published on in December 2012


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