Review: From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks


Janae Marks


#1 Kids Indie Next List Parents Magazine Best Book of the Year * Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book of the Year * SLJ Best Book of the Year * Kirkus Best Book of the Year * Junior Library Guild Selection * Edgar Award Nominee * Four Starred Reviews

From debut author Janae Marks comes a captivating story full of heart, as one courageous girl questions assumptions, searches for the truth, and does what she believes is right—even in the face of great opposition. 

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 from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.

But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies.

“When Marcus tells Zoe he is innocent, and her grandmother agrees, Zoe begins to learn about inequality in the criminal justice system, and she sets out to find the alibi witness who can prove his innocence.” (Publishers Weekly, “An Anti-Racist Children’s and YA Reading List”)


Wow! Well-done! Extraordinary!

Middle Grade genre has been producing some great books. The other day I read Genesis Begins Again and I just finished From the Desk of Zoe Washington.

Reading these books makes me reminisce about when my kids were younger and we would read books together. I want my kids to be little again so we could read these two books together.

At one point in this story, it started to remind me of a kid version of the tv series –Truth Be Told. Octavia Spencer and Aaron Paul were the main actors in the series about trying to prove a long-term prisoner was wrongly convicted. If you haven’t seen it, look it up. It was really good.

Zoe just turned 12 years and received her first letter from her biological dad from prison. Zoe doesn’t let her parents know she got that letter and started corresponding with her dad in prison. Her maternal grandma gets involved and helps facilitate the communication between Zoe and her dad. I loved her grandma so much. Her kind heart and wise words reminds me of my grandma.

While this book wasn’t based on a true story it was inspired by true stories. If you like podcasts the author got her inspiration from season 1 of the Serial podcast and the tv series Making of a Murder.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington was so well done. I found Zoe’s story to be inspirational. Give this book a read.

Audio book source: Hoopla
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Length: 6H 10M

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Author: Foxy

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