‘Ketchup Clouds’ is written as a series of letters to a man on Death Row, by a girl named ‘Zoe’, which is a name she gives herself to remain anonymous. The letters discuss her life up to and after a fatal event which she thinks she caused. Because of this, I thought I was reading from the perspective of a serial killer or something. That’s not the case.
Throughout the letters, which get less and less formal as the days pass, we learn about Zoe and her relationship with two brothers, Aaron and Max. Even in a mysterious death book, you can’t escape the love triangle. It’s clear that Zoe loves Aaron, but is with Max because she thinks Aaron already has a girlfriend, which is not the case. She tries to have a relationship with both boys, but neither really work out and then one of them dies, but I won’t say which. She thinks its her fault. So instantly, Zoe is no longer a murdering psychopath, like I first thought, but a normal teenage girl, trapped in a relationship she can no longer pretend to be interested in.
Although the death is the pivotal moment of the entire book, and every letter Zoe writes leads up to the part when she describes what happened, there is so much underlying normality. Zoe has two sisters. One’s getting bullied and the other is deaf. Her dad loses his job, her mum doesn’t work and her grandfather is mentally unstable. Because there’s so much going on in her family life, this works as the second biggest plot driver. We learn more about what made her sister deaf and what happened to the grandfather. Although these events could happen to anyone, in any family, I was desperate to find out what happened. I guess it just proved that everyone’s interesting.
To be honest, I can’t pinpoint what I liked so much about this book. I just knew that I had to keep turning the pages. The writing style was so honest, I think that might have had something to do with it. Zoe’s emotions were so easy to read, and complicated relationships were made transparent. Occasionally, there’d be a drawing in the book, just to add to the authenticity. It was brilliant.
Even though the reader was supposed to think of Zoe as a killer, she wasn’t. I sympathised with her. I understood her, and felt like I was experiencing her emotional trauma with the same depth as if I was the one dealing with a dead body.
Overall, I’d give this book 4 stars. Because I jumped into the book without researching its ratings on GoodReads, I was pleasantly surprised by the content. I’m definitely going to read Pitcher’s debut novel ‘My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece’ very very soon.