Publisher's Description: In Ketchup Clouds, Annabel Pitcher introduces what must be one of the more unusual pen-pal relationships ever set to paper. Zoe is a teenage girl living in Bath, England, and the recipient of her letters is Mr. Stuart Harris, an inmate on Texas’ death row. At first glance, the two seem to have nothing in common, but as Zoe begins to reveal her story through her letters to Stuart, readers start to understand why Zoe feels an affinity for this doomed man half a world away.
Zoe is consumed with guilt over events that happened a year ago. What should have been a fun and exciting experience—her very first time falling in love—instead resulted in heartbreak, betrayal and death. In addition to concealing her own role in this tragedy, she’s still secretly grieving and nursing a broken heart—things she imagines that Stuart, who’s been sentenced to death for murdering his wife, also must feel.
Zoe’s letters alternate between telling Stuart about her life as it is right now—complete with family dramas and ongoing attempts to avoid the dead boy’s mother—and gradually recounting the events from the year before. Throughout the novel, Pitcher delays revealing not only Zoe’s role in the death, but also the identity of the dead boy, skillfully building suspense while inciting sympathy. Ketchup Clouds is alternately romantic, sad and even surprisingly funny, as readers come to know this quirky character through her most unconventional confession.
Why I Love It: First off, I love the title! Ketchup clouds! Ingenious! As a person who has a whimiscal obsession with clouds...and, oddly enough, ketchup...I really enjoy this unique title. I am very curious to find out how the title is represented in the novel. According to the publisher's description, this novel is about a teenage girl living in England who becomes the pen-pals with a death row prisoner across the Atlantic ocean. The first thing I wonder, is how could this be at all related to ketchup clouds? Well, I look forward to finding out.
It is hard to describe why I absolutely love this book cover. This novel's cover displays a young girl in a plain, gray dress with her blond air blowing up into the wind towards the clouds. The color of the young girl's dress reminds me of the dull color of a prisoner's uniform. Most people associate orange with a prisoners uniform and while many inmates do wear this very bright color, this is mostly just a stereotype. Many prisoners wear tan, blue, white and, of course, gray. Gray is often associated with grief or pessimism while her hair flying her to the clouds could be a desire of freedom from these feelings. I think this may play a large role in the novel.
The young girl is also seen standing against a wallpaper pattern of red clouds. Most people would associate clouds with the color white, gray or even blue but rarely red. She is also holding a black bird with outstretched wings, preparing itself to launch off of her fingertips.
There is so much constrast on this simple cover with a young girl wearing prison colors against a backdrop of red clouds. She seems to be holding steady in her spot while her hair and a bird begin to take flight, perhaps hoping to take her along for the ride. I guess, we'll just have to see.