Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher is an interesting look at life as a teenage girl with a terrible secret. I can't quite decide how I feel about it though. I'm going to try to keep this review spoiler-free, but if I change my mind I'll make it clear.

There were several things I really liked about this book. First of all, I'm pretty sure they come from a mixed race family. Which the cover (of course) doesn't really indicate, but a passage on the second page of the book, does indicate. Or at least I read it that way.

Also, Zoe's (the main character's)  sister is deaf. She signs through out the whole book. I love that Pitcher included a character with a hearing disability and didn't neglect them. I think it would be easy to be like "oh this person has a hearing disability so they don't talk a lot." Dot is six years old. She talks all the time! She's your typical six year old--she gets into things, she has a lot of questions, she runs around the place causing ruckus--she just does it all without hearing anything and with sign language.

That leads me to the other part I loved about this book. Zoe's family is so fleshed out and realistic. Dot's the youngest and cannot hear. Soph's the middle child and hates the attention that their mom gives Dot. A lot of the time, Soph refuses to sign, even though she knows how to, because she's jealous of the constant attention Dot gets, which Dot gets in part because she's the youngest and in part because she is deaf. Zoe's mom is a little bit neurotic. She's a stay at home mom, and she tends to harp on her daughters about everything. She cleans the house a lot. And Zoe's dad is light-hearted but serious. He balances out her mom in a lot of ways.

Although it drove me crazy at times, I also really liked how the book was set-up. Zoe's writing to a prisoner in Texas who's on death row. She tends to start out her letters by writing about what's happening now. Then she revisits the year before: all the events that led up the big life-changing event that's caused her to write to him.

I really like Pitcher's writing style in general, actually. She gives details but not too many details. She floats lines in that are truly beautiful but follows them up with something I can hear myself saying in high school.

Things I didn't like about this book are fewer, but in a lot of ways, bigger deals.

I'm not particularly fond of the love triangle in this book. It's not inaccurate or useless (see my post here on those) but it's just unfortunate. Zoe knows the choices that she's making are not good choices, and she makes them anyway. That's really accurate for life, but that doesn't mean it's exactly what I want in my books.

This is not a spoiler, but I did not like the ending.

Overall, I think Ketchup Clouds is really worth reading, but it hasn't jumped to my favorites list.

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