Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Dear Zoe” as Want to Read:
Dear Zoe
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Dear Zoe

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,131 Ratings  ·  158 Reviews
Hours away from pushing the button on a self-publishing deal, lawyer-turned-novelist Philip Beard was won over by the combined efforts of a bookseller, a sales rep, a publisher, and an agent, and brought the book to Viking. With its extraordinary backstory already covered in Publishers Weekly’s “Hot Deals” column, Dear Zoe has got built-in buzz that’s just going to keep gr ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published March 24th 2005 by Viking Adult (first published February 21st 2004)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Dear Zoe, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Dear Zoe

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,980)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 26, 2015 Kelli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, 2015-fiction, audio
Dear Philip,

How did you do that? How did you write a book that is narrated by a fifteen-year-old girl without sounding in any way like anything other than a fifteen-year-old girl? No amount of research could get you to that level of authenticity, so I am really wondering what your secret is. To capture so perfectly what it is to be young, female and utterly broken is no small feat. How did you come up with the idea for this novel (which is brilliant, by the way)? Juxtaposing an epic personal tra
Jun 05, 2016 Tabby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

Why this book?

I wanted to read something heart wrenching

What I thought

Like I said I wanted to read something heart wrenching and that is exactly what Dear Zoe was. It was a letter from Tess to her deceased baby sister Zoe. Who died on September 11th but not in the way you think. It tells of story of family, first love and a 15 year old girl struggling to make sense of her grief. I thought this was a really beautifully written book and it filled me up with many emotions. I had a couple
Dec 20, 2014 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book wrecked me...I thought it was very original and the narrator will break your heart.
Apr 11, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult-2012
When people say, September 11, 2001, everyone's mind goes to the tragic attack on America, but we all seem to forget that other's lives changed that day as well that had nothing to do with the events that unfolded that. Tess witnessed her little sister, Zoe, being hit and killed by a car outside thier home. This book is written as a letter from 15 year old Tess to Zoe. Zoe's death throw the family into a state of utter confusion- her step-father now works late into the night, her mother sleeps a ...more
Aug 26, 2009 Rcbuenaventura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dear Zoe is a letter, from Tess DeNunzio to her younger sister, who died in a hit-and-run accident on a day when the world’s attention was focused elsewhere, with no grief to spare for Zoe’s death, except in Tess’s family. On September Eleventh, 2001, Zoe died, leaving Tess and her family devastated. It’s certainly something we don’t think about, all the personal tragedies that played out on that day. When you hear the words ‘September Eleventh,’ you see the towers falling or the Pentagon smokin ...more
Rebecca Jones
Apr 27, 2013 Rebecca Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cried. Several times. I also had to check multiple times to make sure that this wasn't a true story. That this was written by a man. Not a teenage girl, or someone who remembers being that girl.

It was honest and authentic. It talked about the directly about nervous energy that comes after setting yourself free or beginning to. It talks about how external acceptance isn't enough. It explains and walks thrugh the process of inept grief. The denial, the frozenness. The secrets. The walls seperati
"Remember how I said nothing changes everything? I think I was wrong about that. I'm starting to think maybe everything changes everything. That we never know what's going to happen next and we're not even supposed to. Maybe "Z" is the shape of everyone's life.You're going along in what feels like a straight line, headed for one horizon, the only one as far as you know, and then something happens, maybe something good, maybe something terrible, or maybe just something like seeing a guy picking o ...more
May 02, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Carol Patterson
September 11, 2001 was a tragic day in U.S. history. Tess’ three-year-old sister Zoe died that day, just as countless others did. Many died in the terrorist attack, but others like Zoe died in other places where the magnitude of their death only devastated a family, not a nation. But each and every one are tragedies nonetheless.

In Dear Zoe, fifteen-year-old Tess begins to write a letter to the little sister who will never read it. She tells Zoe little things about her life that she may have told
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Me for

On September 11th, 2001, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in numerous acts of terrorism against the United States. Even now, five years later, people still ask the question, "Where were you on 9/11?" I remember watching, on that fateful day, news coverage that left me horrified, aghast, and haunted. Where was I on 9/11? At work, on a day that started out like any other and quickly turned into one that no one will ever forget.

If you asked Tess DeNunzio, the
Jul 29, 2010 Lydia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i think this is one of my favorite books i have ever read in my life. philip beard's style of writing is beautiful, and i think it goes a lot deeper than most novels that appeal to teenagers (or at least me) do. i myself am around tess's age, and although a lot of people say that they "didn't think this portrayed a teenage girl well at all" i extremely disagree. it may just be me, but i was able to relate to tess on so many levels it actually felt like philip beard used me to make tess. how she ...more
Jan 05, 2009 Zinta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Maybe 'Z' is the shape of everyone's life," writes Philip Beard. "You're going along in what feels like a straight line, headed for one horizon, the only one as far as you know, and then something happens..."

But my zigs and zags were few in Philip Beard's slim novel, "Dear Zoe." On this level of writing, it's smooth sailing. Beard is a skilled writer, and his style is seamless enough that he accomplishes the very difficult writer's task - not only of crossing genders in this first person narra
Sarah Lee
Mar 16, 2014 Sarah Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dear Zoe, is a unique book. What drew me in was the preview in the inside cover. You quickly learn that this book is a long letter written by Tess to her younger sister Zoe, who was tragically killed on 9/11 by a hit-and-run driver. It’s through these letters that Tess finds herself and comes to terms with the accident.

As Tess goes through the grieving process, using distractions like a new job, marijuana, and boys, her unique voice kept me hooked till the end. Because the novel is written as a
Sep 07, 2008 Terry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teens and adults
Recommended to Terry by: a friend
Everyone remembers where they were on 9-11. In this novel,that's the day 15-year-old Tess's little sister was killed and Tess's world collapsed. As she tried to build a life after 9-11, Tess finds that grown-ups can't save you but love just might. The novel is gritty enough to avoid being sappy and real enough that you can feel what Tess feels.

More than 20 teenagers in my teen library reading group have read this book and LOVE it. Some have read it multiple times. Author Phil Beard even visited
This is a poignant coming of age story. It is the story of fifteen year old Tess, an ordinary girl growing up in Pittsburg whose life is forever changed due to a personal tragedy, her younger sister is killed in a car v. pedestrian accident, on the same day that the nation experiences a national tragedy, the 9-11 attacks. It is achingly sad and but often funny as Tess deals with not only her grief, but her family's response to the death, her biological father's lack of ambition and first love. T ...more
Jul 24, 2011 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book all at once was heartbreaking, redemptive and healing. I read it in one sitting, not only because it's not a terribly long novel, but because it's so captivatingly honest, you can't put it down.

I want to especially applaud Mr. Beard for creating Tess in such a real, authentic way. How he was able to get into the mind and nuances of a 15 year old girl is beyond me, but he did so in such a way, that throughout the book, I kept thinking, "wow - he really gets who she is and what she's go
Dec 11, 2008 Flannery rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i really enjoyed listening to this book but:
1. it is sad;
2. it is even more sad when you grew up in pittsburgh and know all the places the author is talking about.

i listened to this on a cross-country flight and i was looking out the window and crying a lot of the time thinking about going to kennywood as a child and grocery shopping at the giant eagle.

anyways, i liked the narrator and the style of beard's writing. it's easy to listen to and a super-quick read.(like 5 or so hours on audiobook)
Marie Claire
May 12, 2012 Marie Claire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is one of one of the BEST books I've ever read. I actually feel weird reading about Tess (the main character whose sister died in an accident) because we have a lot in common and it is my first time to read about someone so much alike with me. This is a GREAT book and I say you read it before the movie goes out and people would be paying more attention to it - beat them to it! :) It's a book that deals with loss, family, drugs, depression and love.

- and yes it is going to be a movie o
Dec 31, 2014 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Last book of the year -- and a worthwhile conclusion to 2014. Written as 15-year old Tess's letter to her 4-year old sister killed by a hit & run driver on Sept 11 as the towers fell, it unpeels all the onion layers that such an event has on both the 15-yr old & on her family. Tess is a great character who self-protectively masks, but finally allows herself to recognize the impact of her loss, and works toward a healthy healing. This was Beard's first novel, and he did well -- especially ...more
Lexi Oldham
Mar 10, 2016 Lexi Oldham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
When you hear the date "9/11", what do you think? Tess DeNunzio not only thinks of the tragic day that the World Trade Center collapsed but also as the day that her little sister was ran over by a car and killed while she was supposed to be watching her. This book was written by Phillip Beard and his main character, Tess, tells the story from her point of view. She tells Zoe everything she wants her to know; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Tess tells Zoe of the grieving her family did after she ...more
Erynne Dehler
May 21, 2015 Erynne Dehler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Dear Zoe" is about a fifteen year old teenage girl whose step-sister had died.The main character is named Tess. She has two step-sisters, named Zoe and Em. It all started on September 11, 2001; when Tess and Zoe were waiting outside of their house waiting for the bus to pick them up to go to school. Tess let her eyes off of her sister while they were on the sidewalk next to the road. Zoe ended up going into the streets and she got hit by a car. Tess does not like to talk about the accident
Bryan Pearce
Aug 04, 2011 Bryan Pearce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teens, young adults
This is an absolutely brilliant book that i would highly recommend. As you read it, you are left wanting more, but are satisfied with the ending. Its only now as i write this that i notice the cover art. It makes the book more haunting.

The book is a letter the main character is writing to her younger sister who she lost on 9/11, but not in the terror attacks. I found the characters likeable, even though they are flawed. The story isnt sugar coated either. This book has left a lasting impression.
Jess Baxter
Dear Zoe I such a powerful, moving book about death, it tackle those feelings we tend to push away because they're too hard to bear. I really love that it's told from the teenager point of view because there's a sense of innocence throughout the whole novel. I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever lost a loved one, I think hearing Tess' story will give us the courage to remember that it's okay to cry and be upset about our lost ones.
Sep 19, 2015 Eileen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, death
Fantastic story!
Mar 19, 2008 Elissa rated it really liked it
I often had to remind myself that this book was not written by a teenage girl, but instead by an older man. The story of a family whos lives are turned upside down when an accident on Sept. 11th, 2001 is captivating. The accident is slowly revealed as the main character attempts to deal with her emotions, her guilt and her family that is falling apart. A great story and a quick read. I am looking forward to more from this author
Nov 14, 2010 Upstatemamma rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys a good cry
This book was very sad but very good. I cried several times while I read this book. It really made me feel for all of the characters and it had a unique sense of being able to capture the teenage thoughts and emotions without being critical or condescending. I got through this book in about three days. I really did not ever want to put it down. If I were not a mom who had to work I probably would have read it in one sitting.
Marieanne Fabiano
I've met Phillip Beard and enjoy him as much as his books. This was a wonderful story about a family who suffers a loss on September 11th, but not in the actual attacks. It's often hard to remember anything but what happened on that day, but this book brings to light the realities that life still was happening, even during that awful tragedy. Beautifully written - a real tug-at-your-heart story.
Taylor Mead
Aug 25, 2014 Taylor Mead rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book is my favorite. I picked it out of my middle school library for silent reading. I started reading in class and couldn't put it down until I went to sleep that night. I finished it the next day.

This was the book that inspired me to become a writer. I hope to someday be half the writer Philip is, because that is still a great writer.

Thank you Philip!
And Well Done.
May 14, 2016 Jodi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
I thought this was a really beautifully written book. It wasn't until I was nearly through it that I took the time to realize that it was written by a man, yet the first person voice of the teenage girl was so well done and seemed so true to a real 15 year old girl! This was really a lovely story, but it was unfortunate that there were a couple of inappropriate scenes.
Mar 21, 2014 Whitney rated it it was amazing
I read this book I think about 7 years ago. I think I was around 11 or 12 years-old and I had no idea what I had just read.

But I do remember this was a great book and I always find myself thinking about it from time to time. I think I need to reread it because it's been so long and some of the things that occurred in it I probably didn't understand back then.
Aug 28, 2008 Casey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! I laughed, I cried, I yelled in frustration, then I sobbed...but all the while I knew the worst part would be reading the last word and having the story end. The main character isn't perfect and certainly doesn't lead a perfect life, but there's something earthy about her that just makes you forgive her flaws and love her anyway.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 65 66 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
9/11 reference 4 18 Apr 05, 2012 06:13PM  
  • Not Like You
  • Burn
  • One True Theory of Love
  • The Other Sister
  • Sofi Mendoza's Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico
  • Eighth-Grade Superzero
  • Donorboy
  • Hancock Park: A Novel
  • Death of an Ordinary Man
  • Tiger, Tiger
  • Frannie in Pieces
  • Batman #3 (New 52 Batman, #3)
  • Evening News
  • The Alison Rules
  • Adultery for Beginners
  • Som om ingenting
  • Episodes: My Life as I See It
  • The Usual Rules
Philip Beard is a recovering attorney and award-winning author of Dear Zoe, which was a Book Sense Pick, a Borders Original Voices selection, and was named by the American Library Association's "Booklist" as one of its Ten Best First Novels of the year. It has enjoyed a second life being taught in high school classrooms across the country and is currently being developed as a feature film. His lat ...more
More about Philip Beard...

Share This Book

“But love is this really powerful thing that everyone's got if they'd just learn how to accept it. I mean, come on. If it's something we all have to give, and if it's something we all want, doesn't that mean there's exactly enough to go around?” 11 likes
“People who fall in love can fall out of it.” 9 likes
More quotes…