I recently finished reading Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher. It was recommended to me by a friend. We had been discussing our mutual love of Young Adult novels – I have a lot of friends that are in to these, no idea what that says about us – when she recommended this one, saying that it had won a number of prizes. She also mentioned that she had preferred this authors first novel, which I haven’t gotten around to reading, but if I do, I shall be sure to let you know.
This book was wonderfully hilarious immediately. It pulls you in and before you know it you are sucked in and don’t want to go anywhere else. The character is relatable to what I would assume would be most teenage girls. Although, she isn’t as cliché as some others are, which is a definite bonus. She is someone you like and want to be friends with and you want to know how it ends.
A brief synopsis: The character starts writing to a murderer on Death Row as she thinks he is the only one that could understand what she is going through, as she too, has murdered someone.
For the whole book I kept hoping there would be some misunderstanding, that she hadn’t killed someone, that perhaps she had misinterpreted the events. Surely this girl, that I liked so much, hadn’t murdered someone? Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t, I won’t ruin it.
As you can imagine though, it is quite dark, and the humour is very dry. For example to makes reference to her Grandfather as having a stroke, which resulted in a stroke of good luck for her and another is “I read The Famous Five when I had to do my first book review at primary school. 4.5 out of 5 I gave it because the adventure was good and they found the treasure at the end but this character called George who was a borderline transvestite kept talking to her dog so I knocked off half a star for being unrealistic”. Hrmm, they don’t seem quite as funny taken out of context, but it was genuinely hilarious. I laughed out loud at a lot of it.
There were also lots of drawings throughout which were good and really added to the book. For example there is a picture of Hitler jumping over a wall. Jeez, this really isn’t coming out anywhere near as funny as it does in the book. Clearly it is the kind of thing that you need to read.
As I said the main character seems like a genuine character, although the best friend character is a bit cliché. However, what I do like is the dynamic between them. In most books, indeed in real life, most best friends are normally joined at the hip, that they can’t do anything without each other. In the book though they seem quite independent of each other, which was good, as it gave them both individual personalities instead of merging into one. There was, however, a suspicious lack of angst. I don’t know if perhaps I was just a particularly angsty teen, but I did way more complaining and feeling sorry for myself than either of them did.
Also, when it comes to the kissing, sexual activity outlined in the book the author approaches it really well. She never plies the character with feelings of guilt, she makes it seem natural, which is always a good thing to do when you are writing to a mostly female, teenage audience. It gives them realistic expectations and allows them not to feel guilty or wrong for wanting to do these things. The main character is a very positive role model, and I genuinely wish I could have read this book when I was a teenager.
I would very much recommend it, but opinions seems to be polarised on it. I told my friend who recommended it to me that I loved it, and she said lots of people told her they hated it. So it appears to be a bit of a marmitey book. If you enjoy dry humour, beautiful alliteration and endlessly amusing drawings though, it is definitely for you.