Yours Truly or Ketchup Clouds
by Annabel Pitcher
Summary: Secrets, romance, murder and lies: Zoe shares a terrible secret in a letter to a stranger on death row in this second novel from the author of the bestselling debut, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.
Fifteen-year-old Zoe has a secret—a dark and terrible secret that she can’t confess to anyone she knows. But then one day she hears of a criminal, Stuart Harris, locked up on death row in Texas. Like Zoe, Stuart is no stranger to secrets. Or lies. Or murder.
Full of heartache yet humour, Zoe tells her story in the only way she can—in letters to the man in prison in America. Armed with a pen, Zoe takes a deep breath, eats a jam sandwich, and begins her tale of love and betrayal.
(I prefer the previous title AND the previous blurb: 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 exactly three months ago.
Zoe has an unconventional pen pal–Mr. Stuart Harris, a Texas Death Row inmate and convicted murderer. But then again, Zoe has an unconventional story to tell. A story about how she fell for two boys, betrayed one of them, and killed the other.
Hidden away in her backyard shed in the middle of the night with a jam sandwich in one hand and a pen in the other, Zoe gives a voice to her heart and her fears after months of silence. Mr. Harris may never respond to Zoe’s letters, but at least somebody will know her story–somebody who knows what it’s like to kill a person you love. Only through her unusual confession can Zoe hope to atone for her mistakes that have torn lives apart, and work to put her own life back together again.
Rising literary star Annabel Pitcher pens a captivating second novel, rich with her distinctive balance between humor and heart. Annabel explores the themes of first love, guilt, and grief, introducing a character with a witty voice and true emotional resonance.
Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.
I absolutely LOVED this book. The beginning (which is the beginning of blurb #2) completely hooked me. Despite the fact that “Zoe” sounded much younger than I think she actually was, I kind of enjoyed the narration because it stopped it from being a dark, woe-is-me kind of story and allowed it to be a little bit more upbeat. I typically don’t like when narrations sound younger than the content, but it was precisely what made this book stand apart from the depressing YA that is prevalent nowadays.
The pacing was nice. I knew Zoe had a secret she was ready to spill. I knew someone’s future would be cut short. But who? How? And why? I loved that there was more than just her own drama happening at the same time. Her family was having problems. And mostly, I just loved how EVERY SINGLE character had a flaw. This a book that doesn’t deal in absolutes, but tells a story that seems more realistic. Zoe is a teenager, but can still see the world with naïve eyes, which is true. As much as I love mature YA with narrators I can relate to as an adult, sometimes, we forget that teens are just kids learning to deal with adult feelings without adult wisdom.
While the story is told in letters to a death row inmate, it reads more like a diary. Some reviewers felt like it was a problem, but I think the letter to the inmate served as something else. Sure, you probably wouldn’t share such details, especially the gooey bits, to a death row inmate, but she didn’t write to him because she was thinking about how he would respond to her. She was writing to the only person she felt could understand her and the guilt she carried. It was her diary.. but addressed to someone in order to serve as a better outlet. I think it made perfect sense and showed how Zoe felt about her own actions and I don’t know that I would have necessarily realized the depth of her guilt otherwise.
Yours Truly is not a perfect story, but it was captivating and I loved watching it unfold. I loved the ending, the feelings, and the way it all kind of felt bittersweet, the way The Perks of Being A Wallflower made me feel. I definitely loved it and recommend it, so long as you aren’t overly critical and you’re in the mood for everything this book sounds like it is. And honestly, I hate the title change because I feel like Ketchup Clouds invites readers who have a better expectations. There’s something kind of silly about it, but the serious blurb makes you kind of take a step back. It was a story that had silly moments and serious ones. Yours Truly just doesn’t have the same ring to it.