Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Rachel loved this book before she had even turned the last page!

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

I was feeling bold and included Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher in my Top Five of 2014 without finishing it. Now that I’m done reading it, I’m so glad that I made that hasty decision because this book is a great one.

“Zoe” (a pseudonym for reasons explained later) is your typical over-protected high school kid whose parents, particularly her mother, expect her to put her nose to the grindstone, get excellent grades, stay out of trouble, look after her two younger sisters, and land a well-paying lawyer gig once she reaches adulthood. And Zoe has happily gone along with this plan her whole life (well, except for that secret children’s book she’s been writing and her insatiable interest in birds). That is, until she is lured to a party by her best friend, Lauren, and ends up with the hottest guy in school, Max Morgan. The only problem is that she can’t keep her mind off Aaron, another boy she met at the party who she had an unforgettable connection with. As things heat up between Max and Zoe, so does her playful flirtation with Aaron. Zoe doesn’t really see any harm in it until she discovers that Aaron is actually Max’s older brother--and the brothers are very close.

What makes this more than just your run-of-the-mill teenage love triangle is an overarching mystery that unfolds as Zoe tells her story through a series of letters to an inmate facing execution for killing his cheating wife. Zoe tells us from the start that she is writing to the prisoner, Stuart, because she feels an affinity for him after she herself was involved in a death that resulted in the loss of the person she loves most in the world. Only, where Stuart was caught and faces his justice, Zoe must live with the guilt of her actions. These letters are Zoe’s confession, though she hides her name for fear of her letters being intercepted and her culpability made known.

Ketchup Clouds won the 2014 Edgar Award for a youth mystery. But it’s really a wonderful love story with a complex and unreliable narrator who reveals the true nature of love, guilt, sacrifice, and redemption.​

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