Ketchup Clouds Waterstones Winner
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher recently became this year’s best teenage novel. In the 5-12 years age group, ‘Wonder’ by RJ Palacio won the prize, and ‘Lunchtime’ by Rebecca Cobb triumphed in the picture book category.
Annabel’s previous novel, ‘My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece’, won many awards and prizes, but there was speculation as to whether her next book would be quite as good. The answer is yes.
The story centres on Zoe Collins, a teenage girl, who has a dark secret. She killed a boy and got away with it. Out of guilt, she looks up Texas Death Row pen pals so she can get the weight off her chest by sending regular letters. She selects an inmate named Stuart Harris who was condemned for the same crime that Zoe committed and got away with. The letters are surprisingly light and humorous, and by the middle of the book, you’ll be racing forward to solve the crime.
To protect her confidentiality, she uses Zoe Collins as a pen name and a fictional address. When Stuart’s execution is announced on the same day as Zoe’s one year anniversary of the murder, she sends a final letter, using her real name and address. It has a deep finality about it and maybe that, and the unique concept, is why it was awarded the prize.
Overall, Ketchup Clouds is a fresh but mildly unsettling tale which definitely deserved the title of ‘Best Waterstones Novel 2013’.