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.
Best Bits: The reader is introduced to "Zoe" through letters that she writes to a death-row inmate. Zoe isn't her real name, of course...not when she's confessing to a crime and writing to someone who has murdered his wife. For the most part I enjoyed the format of the book. We read the letters being sent to Stuart Harris, and Pitcher does a good job of showing the intensity and drama that goes along with being a teenager. I also really appreciated her depiction of Zoe's family. They're kind of in crisis...in the way a family is when everything is going wrong all at once. Each member has their flaws, but the reader is also able to see their strengths. We also get to see Zoe's guilt and shame mirrored by her parents. They all express these things so differently...as a counselor it made me cheer! These are hard emotions to talk about, much less capture with authenticity.
Nit Picks: I was very sick when I read this one...so I think that made me a bit cranky. I had heard really good things about it, and I found the book a little predictable. I guessed what Zoe was going to reveal fairly early in the book, and I struggled not to skim through portions. The romance didn't really strike me either. I know that many people loved this book, and while it didn't quite live up to that expectation, it's still worth a read.
By Annabel Pitcher
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Received via Library