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From the Desk of Zoe Washington

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  647 ratings  ·  168 reviews
Zoe Washington isnt sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father shes never met, hadnt heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and whos 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 from
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 14th 2020 by Katherine Tegen Books
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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.
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 booksambitious, curious, strongwhat 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
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
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
Melanie  Brinkman
Sometimes we must tweak the recipe of life to make it right.

A letter awaits on Zoe 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 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 members
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 youre 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
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
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 normalshe 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 and ...more
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 mightve been my favorite character 😁

Also, the food descriptions were scrumptious. Can someone please make me a fruit loops cupcake?
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
On Zoes 12th birthday, she receives a letter from her biological father Marcus, whos 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 discusses
Anuradha Rajurkar
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wndb
I read an early copy of this powerful debut, and I can't recommend it highly enough! The writing is clear and impactful, the characterization is pitch-perfect, and both plotting and premise make for a captivating read. I am blown away by this story.

Middle-school protagonist Zoe lives happily with her mother and stepfather, loves to bake, and dreams of being on a kids baking competition show. On her twelfth birthday, she receives a letter in the mail from Marcus, the biological father she's never
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 ...more
Kim Johnson
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roaring20sdebut
Fabulously written and such a heart warming story. I was fortunate to have an advanced readers copy and just fell in love with Zoe and her dreams of being a pastry chef. Zoe finally receives a letter from her father for the first time who is incarcerated for a violent crime. The writer carefully crafted a heart warming story that is very approachable to the middle grade age and is much more hopeful and heartfelt than you might assume.

Zoe is a full blown character who is spunky, determined, and
Cathleen Barnhart
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Janae Marks wonderful debut is an important and timely novel about systemic racism in the U.S that will engage middle school readers and have them both rooting for the main character, Zoe Washington, and questioning this countrys system of mass incarceration. Middle schoolers will relate to Zoe: she has dreams and goals; shes currently not speaking to her best friend, Trevor, because he said something really mean about her; and she loves her parents but doesnt always agree with them. On her ...more
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.
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: newbery-2021
The story is a bit unrealistic but nevertheless I enjoyed every word. Here fairy tales do come true.

12 year old Zoe is a remarkable 12 year old. She knows what she wants and goes after it head long!
On her 12th birthday, she receives a surprising piece of mail postmarked from a prison.
It is from her incarcerated father, (Marcus), whom shes never met. He was sent to prison for murder just before Zoe was born. And as you may guess her mother wants her to have nothing to do with him.

Zoe has two
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
[Gr. 6-8] This exceptionally sweet debut from Marks illustrates profound cracks in the American criminal justice system while telling an affecting story grounded in middle grade ethos. Zoe Washington, a soon-to-be seventh grader growing up outside Boston, is celebrating a birthday bereft of friends due distance and betrayal when a surprise letter from her incarcerated father arrives and throws her life into emotional disarray. The clandestine correspondence they strike up, letters and a few ...more
Ms. Woc Reader
I wasn't really sure what to expect with this story when I requested it. The cover was striking and it caught my eye right away. I also liked that it featured a bit of mystery in synopsis.

Incarceration of innocent black men is a tough topic to tackle. It's an important conversation that we need to have but often people just don't want to hear. I think black readers are often bombarded with this news on a daily basis that it wears on them.

This book was different because Marcus being in prison
Shannon Doleski
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh I got to read this book before its release date, and it is lovely, lovely, lovely.
This book is two books in one - it is both a fun, sweet story of a girl who takes charge of her baking dream and a necessary, tough look at our justice system. Marks balances both expertly. Zoe is a little force and a terrific middle grade narrator. I loved her best when she was defying her parents. I think readers will too ;)
Listen you might be tempted to eat all the sweets while you read. And it's got a
Laura (bbliophile)
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this one a lot! Full review to come.
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So sweet and lovely. My 9yo says this is in her top 2 😍
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved reading this book! It was fun, intriguing, emotional, and one of those books that a reader of any age would enjoy. The author has wonderfully made the character tackle so many issues for a middle grade novel. Zoe is awesome as the protagonist and comes across as a creative, sensitive, yet strong person. She always wants to reach out and help others no matter how difficult the situation is. I loved Trevors character as well because he tries to help Zoe even when she was angry ...more
Francesca Flores
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was so incredible! Zoe has such a strong voice that pulls you in and makes you want to know more about her-the passion she has for baking, her love for her family, and of course, the new emotions she experiences upon receiving a letter from her father, who's in prison. The emotion during the scenes where she read and wrote these letters just leapt off the page, and some of these scenes definitely made me tear up. Her dad's love for her and longing to be in her life were so strongly ...more
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to #Edelweiss+ and Katherine Tegen books for an eARC of this book.

FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON is the authors middle grade debut, and what a way kick off her publishing career! I love that Zoe is passionate about baking, and desperately wants to be on the Food Network Kids Bake Challenge (I even made cupcakes inspired by her recipe, and hope there will be a recipe included in the final copy of the book). She even gets an opportunity to intern at a bakery, though its not quite how
Julianne DeSilva
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read an advanced reader copy of this book and I LOVED IT. It tackles so many issues, and does so with such poise. Zoe's father, Marcus, has been incarcerated since before she was born, jailed for a crime he says he did not commit. Zoe begins to research the crime, bent on determining if Marcus is telling the truth. I think Janae Marks does an incredible job of tackling such a heavy subject, making Zoe brave, but also vulnerable.
I also love that despite all of this heavy subject matter, Zoe is
Kaela Noel
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky to read an advance copy of From the Desk of Zoe Washington. Wow! Brisk, precisely written, with not a word out of placethis is a great and satisfying novel. I particularly loved Zoe's biological dad's character. He felt very real, and Zoe's complicated feelings about him were well handled, as was the involvement of her grandmother. The story deals with serious issues, but also feels somewhat gentle in tone and right for a middle grade audience.

I also really love books that include
Book Hunter
Apr 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Zoe Washington just turned twelve when a letter arrives for her and it turns out to be from the father she has never met and who is serving time in prison. She decides to secretly write him back... Its good that there is a book that deals with a parent being in prison. However, I am sensitive to the moral fiber in kids books and, in my opinion, this book contains some concerning thread. Nearly every major character in the book was lying repeatedly and it took nearly 250 pages for everyone to ...more
Katy Upperman
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was just excellent. I adored Zoe! I loved following her baking journey, and her plight to uncover whether her father was convicted of a murder he didn't commit. Janae's writing is lovely and sophisticated and perfectly suited to middle grade fiction. The way she's crafted Zoe feels very authentic, but a little bit magical, too. The minute I finished FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON, I passed it along to my twelve-year-old daughter. I think she's going to love it as much as I did!
Suzanne Nelson
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a timely, engaging, and tender middle-grade novel! Zoe Washington is a strong protagonist determined to face challenging family and friendship dilemmas without giving up, and she overcomes obstacles that even the adults in the story are having a difficult time facing. Zoes family and friendship issues are realistic, deftly-drawn, and poignant, and her passion for baking adds fun and inventive elements to her story as well. The book is also a platform for some important discussions about ...more
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 wouldve liked a book with just Marcus and Zoe... ...more
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Mock Newbery 2021: March Read - From the Desk of Zoe Washington 28 134 Apr 02, 2020 09:16AM  

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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. ...more

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