cover image Ketchup Clouds

Ketchup Clouds

Annabel Pitcher. Little, Brown, $18 (272p) ISBN 978-0-316-24676-7

Pitcher (My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece) delivers a taut epistolary novel about a British teenager who writes to a Texas death row inmate and confesses her guilt in a murder: “You killed someone you were supposed to love and I killed someone I was supposed to love, and we both understand the pain and the fear and the sadness and the guilt and the hundred other feelings that don’t even have a name in all of the English language.” Though the writer invents her name, Zoe, there’s nothing false about her one-way letters that gradually reveal her turbulent and destructive romance with two brothers, Max and Aaron, which ends in a death. Pitcher (who won the 2013 Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize for this novel) thrusts Zoe into charged situations (her parents’ strain over her deaf sister and her father’s unemployment heighten the conflict), and Zoe’s guilt casts a chill on her relationship with the boys’ mother. Zoe’s introspective and surprisingly humorous voice will strike a chord with readers as they dwell on the space between guilt and innocence. Ages 12–up. Agent: Catherine Clarke, Felicity Bryan Associates. (Nov.)