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.
To see my review of My Sister Lives on The Mantelpiece by Annabel pitcher, Click Here.
I have to say, I was quite reluctant to read the book. After the masterpiece that was Annabel Pitcher previous debut novel, My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece , I was uncertain if she could make this novel as good as the previous. I was very surprised to find that I liked this novel better than the previous, well just a teensy bit as they are both phenominal !
The plot of this book was what made me pick the book up first, well that and the gorgeous cover and unusual title. The plot tells us of a girl who has commited a crime so terrible she can not tell anyone but a man on death row, Stuart Harris, who she thinks is equally a bad person as herself. The plot of the book takes the reader through Zoe's letters on a journey into the past. The fluctuation between Zoe talking about present and past events dealing with the unmentionable act really builds up the mystery and suspense. As plot twists unfold the reader is drawn more and more into the story. I was hooked after the first page and was kept guessing until the last page.
The characters of this book were very good. The protagonist Zoe is a very intelligent and witty character. I really liked reading about the day-dreamer personality she had as she would talk about aspirations of being a childrens author and daydream about her life. Zoe was not perfect. She was shy and cowardly but a good person. Both Aaron and Max were really good characters. They provided some of the love interest situations and romance for the novel. I really liked both characters, but what I really enjoyed was how strikingly different they were. Aaron, the older boy, was imaginitive, smart and witty, whereas Max was handsome, popular, sporty, tough but with a soft vulnerable side underneath.
The family of Zoe were also really well written. As the plot unfolds we learn about the family's home problems and about Zoe's younger sister, Dot, and her hearing loss. All the characters really contributed to the story. They were really unique and memorable. They really make the reader build a connection to the story.
The writing style of the book was typical of Pitcher. It was beautiful with a poetic flow that was so easy to read. I read this book in less than 24 hours as pitcher had me hooked to the story and so emotionally invested in the characters and their lives. Pitcher added just the right amount of humour into the book, as too little would make the book seem too sad and too much would take away from the seriousness of the deed and the guilt of the protagonist. The opening paragraph is one of the best I've read, :
" 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. "The writing was so poetic that it was easy to feel myself split beyond the pages and into the characters minds and emotions. The way the book ended left it on a really good note and I was left feeling that perfect blend of satisfaction after reading an amazing book. I really loved this book. Overall, I would totally recommend this to fans of contemporary and her last novel. This was so amazing that it may be one of the best books I've read this year.
Five Star Novel
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