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From the Desk of Zoe Washington

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  2,963 ratings  ·  655 reviews
Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?

A crime he says he never committed.

Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation fr
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 14th 2020 by Katherine Tegen Books
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Average rating 4.36  · 
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 ·  2,963 ratings  ·  655 reviews

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Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-releases
I know I've said this a million times already this year, but wow, I really love middle grade. This was SO GOOD.
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to read this pitch perfect debut, by Janae Marks. Zoe is the kind of protagonist I love in middle grade books—ambitious, curious, strong—what I would describe as a take-charge kinda gal. She loves baking, which, hello, makes her the kind of kid I would have loved to be friends with in middle school. Not only does she love to bake, but she dreams of joining a junior baking competition, so that one day she can become a professional pastry chef. But her ...more
Janae Marks
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Thank you so much to everyone for reading and reviewing my book! I'm so proud of this story. If you are interested, there are some book extras on my website, including a Spotify playlist featuring all of the songs mentioned in the book, a book club discussion guide, a teacher's guide for using the book to teach about criminal justice, and a Froot Loop cupcake recipe. You can find them here: Enjoy!!
~Janae Marks
Jenny Baker
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
A heartwarming and charming story narrated by the talented Bahni Turpin! A must-read for anyone who enjoys middle grade novels. It'll bring you tears of joy.
Lisa (Remarkablylisa)
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: june-2020
This one was a solid read but i felt the ending didn't give me the punch I got from other middle grade novels. This one had a storyline I never thought would be possible in middle grade and that's exactly why people need to read this genre more.
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

On her twelfth birthday, Zoe receives a letter from her imprisoned father, whom she’s never met which begins an odyssey to figure out whether he’s wrongly convicted, or a lying murderer.

I couldn’t help falling in love with Zoe, her passion for baking and her quest to figure out the truth about her father. Her stubborn charm and earnest pursuit of her goals was authentic and endearing.

FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON tackles tough topics in a middle grade age appropriate
Krista Regester
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Never underestimate what children can teach you - or books about children!
Melanie  Brinkman
Sometimes we must tweak the recipe of life to make it right.

A letter awaits on Zoe's doorstep when she returns home from celebrating her 12th birthday. This is the first time she's heard from her father, Marcus, who's in prison for committing a violent crime. A crime he says he didn't commit. Zoe doesn't know how to feel, but the more they correspond, the more she starts to believe him.

Is he innocent? Zoe knows she must find out the truth even if it means hiding her investigation from family mem
Liana Grace
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids
I loved this middle grade so much! I will read anything Janae Marks writes.
Ms. Yingling
Sep 12, 2019 rated it liked it
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Zoe lives in Boston with her mother and stepfather. Her best friend, Trevor, lives next door, but as summer starts, Zoe is still smarting from comments she heard Trevor make to his sporty friends about her, so she doesn't want to hang out with him. Luckily, her mother has a friend who runs a bakery, and Zoe has the opportunity to spend time there honing her skills so she can try out for a kids' version of a baking reality show. Unfortunately, she spends more of he
Kate O'Shaughnessy
Wow. Wow.

I LOVED this book!

Budding 12-year-old pastry chef Zoe Washington receives a letter on her birthday from her incarcerated father, Marcus... and it's the first time she's ever heard from him. He's in jail for a violent crime, but as Zoe continues to correspond with him, she starts to wonder if he might actually be innocent after all.

This book is about love, the highs and lows of friendship, baking (be ready to have intense cupcake cravings), complex family relationships, and the importanc
Afoma Umesi
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Review on 14/01/20. Thanks to the publisher for an e-ARC of this novel.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington is a moving, true-to-life middle-grade novel that highlights just how potent perseverance can be — even when you’re just twelve. This book is one of those middle-grade novels that tackles issues without taking away the joy of the mundane.

Debut author Janae Marks explores parental incarceration, wrongful imprisonment, friendship missteps, and more in this novel. I co
Zoë ☆
Loved this 🥺✨ Such an important story and the main character is incredibly cute. Plus there's baking.... 🙊 Highly recommend this!
Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
Normally I would dock a book like this for the wish fulfillment ending but I don’t care! I cried! It was so sweet. Zoe is great and her family and friends are wonderful. This is also a way to talk to kids about the criminal justice system and its many problems. Recommended for fans of Front Desk.
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every now and then, I read a middle grade book that is engaging, well-written, and fun to read, AND deals with issues so unique and important that I wish I could shove it into the hands of everyone I know. FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON is exactly that kind of book. Much of Zoe's life is pretty normal—she loves to bake and is thrilled to land a summer internship at a real bakery; she's on the outs with her best friend after an incident earlier in the summer; she longs for more responsibility an ...more
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
What an adorable book!
I loved listening to this, Zoe is so cute and I got really invested in her search to see if her dad was innocent. Zoe is pretty smart and I enjoyed her relationship with her grandmother. She's also an amazing baker, I would love to try a fruitloop cupcake!

Zoe's journey to get to know her biological dad and see if he's innocent was fun and entertaining. I was glad that Marcus was nice to Zoe and just wanted to be in her life. I also liked that Trevor stuck by her and was t
Jun 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, 2020
This Middle Grade book struck the perfect balance between being a cute story about a young girl who loves to bake and also covering some more serious topics like systemic racism and how the justice system treats Black men.

Zoe has never known her biological father Marcus, he’s been in prison her whole life. On her twelfth birthday she gets a letter from him and they begin to write back and forth. When Marcus reveals that he’s actually innocent Zoe decides to try and find evidence that will prove
Arianne Costner
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this one!

Zoe is a great, strong character with a spot-on voice. The pacing kept me turning pages the whole time. There is a lot of intrigue to keep the reader interested. The way her relationship develops with her dad is so sweet, and the ending is really satisfying.

Grandma might’ve been my favorite character 😁

Also, the food descriptions were scrumptious. Can someone please make me a fruit loops cupcake?
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked this a lot! It seemed almost too sweet sometimes — like I felt her friend arc just seemed so predictable and the way Trevor spoke sometimes sounded robotic and like he knew exactly what to say and how to apologize. I also found the parents to be really annoying (except for Marcus.) But I loved how Black it was. I kinda would’ve liked a book with just Marcus and Zoe...
Amy Layton
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The second I cracked this book open, I knew I would love it.  I had no idea what it was about, but it takes place in Boston, opened with a birthday party, and--my favorite (at the moment) middle grade trope--an argument with a best friend.  But when Zoe's imprisoned father sends her a letter to celebrate her twelfth birthday, I was captivated for the next couple hundred pages.  

Thus we enter a whirlwind of ethical questions: who are parents to keep one another away from the other?  Why are black
Amber K.
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this middle grade novel and was pleasantly surprised with the heavy themes!

Zoe Washington receives a letter on her 12th birthday from her biological father, a father she’s never met or spoken to but she reads his letter and wants to know more. She discovers her father is in prison for a murder he says he did not commit.

Cue the Just Mercy vibes in this book! My ears perked up and I was completely invested to see how this would end.

Janae Marks expertly reveals that our justice system
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved it - a storyline you don't see very often plus cupcakes! Who doesn't love cupcakes!?
Dec 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Zoe Washington just turned twelve and she has big plans. She wants to be on a kid's baking show, publish her own cookbook, and become a famous pastry chef. An internship at a local bakery will give her opportunities to work toward those aspirations. When a letter addressed to her from her bio dad appears in the mail on her birthday, she channels some of that energy in another direction -- proving her dad is innocent despite his conviction as a murderer before she was born. What this book does ve ...more
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
On Zoe’s 12th birthday, she receives a letter from her biological father Marcus, who’s been in prison her whole life. Shocked but curious, she writes him back. What follows is a summer filled with baking, friendship, and some hardhitting messages about the criminal justice system.

Marks tackles a lot: idealized career aspirations, conflict in friendships, how limiting it is to see the world in absolutes. But most importantly, she explores the suffering caused by wrongful conviction. She discusse
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Zoe is so inspiring, determined, and full of heart. I loved how this book balanced deep and sweet relationships with the very real and important issues surrounding wrongful convictions - and that PoC are vastly more likely to be wrongfully convicted and abused by the justice system. Zoe's story not only brings light to the issue, but will empower young readers to make the changes they want to see in the world.
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, children
This was so delightful.
Vee_Bookish // YA Book Blogger
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was actually amazed by this book, and the heavier topics around racism in America that it handled. Zoe's father has been in prison for her whole life, and she's never met him. The story is partly a mystery, having Zoe attempt to find the potential witness that can help her Dad get out if prison, and partly a topical story around the way black men in America are treated, and how many of them are innocent of the crimes they were convicted for.

Zoe's difficulty balancing her love of baking, her di
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Looking for a heartwarming book that is perfect for kids too? Look no further- this is it for you. Zoe is a 12 year old living in Boston with her mom and stepdad. She just has celebrated her birthday when she gets an unexpected letter in the mail from her dad who is in jail for murder. She has never had any contact with him before but after reading his letter she responds. This sets up her going on a journey to learn more about him, herself, and whether or not he may be innocent. I loved Zoe and ...more
Abby Johnson
What do you do when life throws you a curveball? Zoe Washington plans to spend the summer baking and avoiding her ex best friend who happens to also be her next door neighbor. Now that she's turned twelve, she's finally old enough to apply to be a contestant on her favorite kids' baking reality show IF she can prove to her parents that she's mature enough to handle it. But when Zoe grabs the mail early one day, looking for a birthday card from a generous aunt that's on its way, she discovers a l ...more
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful story about little Zoey Washington who is an adorable 12 year old. On her birthday she receives a letter from her father who is in prison for murder. She writes him back and a bond is formed. Zoey with help from her best friend and neighbor Trevor try to prove her dad's innocence. All the characters were likable especially Zoey's grandmother. Zoey is also a wonderful baker and her future looks very bright.
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​​Janae Marks has an MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in Writing for Children from The New School. She grew up in the suburbs of New York City, and now lives in Connecticut with her husband and daughter. From the Desk of Zoe Washington is her debut novel.

Articles featuring this book

Kim Johnson's upcoming YA debut This Is My America explores racial injustice against innocent black men who are criminally sentenced and the...
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