Just the facts:
Overall: 4.5 Stars
Addiction Level: I read it every waking moment.
Believe-ability: It was believable.
Dystopia Factor: Eh. It’s “normal” life.
Ketchup Clouds is not set in a dystopian world. It is not set in a fantasy world with sword play and action. In fact there really isn’t any action. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s just YA fiction. Plain ‘ole fiction. I read it. And I really, truly liked it. Ketchup Clouds is obviously a huge deviation from my normal reading habits and I can’t really tell you what drew me to it. I guess the snippet from the first chapter is what got my attention. Attention enough that I actually requested it from the library to find out what happens. And so, in lieu of actually giving you a quick summary of the plot I’m going to give you the same snippet that drew me in, in hopes that you’ll find it intriguing too.
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.
I know what it’s like.
Mine wasn’t a woman. Mine was a boy. And I killed him three months ago exactly.
Ketchup Clouds really has a lot going for it. The story brings to light a whole slew of issues from family relations to love and more, but by far the one that stands out most to me, is the power of lies and deception. So many of the issues that arise in the book can be traced back to deceit and by the end I wondered if Zoe would even be writing to a convicted murder if not for the deception that she allowed in her life.
As much as this story made me wrestle with the daily choices we all make, my favorite aspect of the book has nothing to do with the challenges that Zoe faces. In fact, my favorite part of the book is the relationship that grows between Zoe and Stuart. You might not think that this is very special, but I assure you it is. I don’t think many authors can make a relationship happen between two characters when we NEVER have a response from Stuart. He is such a major character to me and yet he never actually participates in the story. He doesn’t have so much as one line to contribute and yet I often found myself thinking about him, wondering what reaction he might be having to reading Zoe’s letters, and trying to figure out if he even cared. Pitcher effectively uses their relationship to create an even bigger story than it seems, or a story within a story, if you will.
I’m clearly not well versed in the area of “just plain” YA fiction so I don’t have much to compare Ketchup Clouds to, but it is a definite recommendation from me. I think I will even pick up other books from Pitcher because I enjoyed this one so immensely.