It has taken me so long but I have finally read “From the Desk of Zoe Washington” by Janae Marks and I must say, it was super cute. It’s a middle grade and isn’t that long of a book so it was a pretty quick read. I saw it on Instagram over a year ago and honestly, I thought it was going to be about a young girl who has a blog or wants to be a journalist. I was not expecting it to be about a girl who wants to be a baker. I still decided to give the book a chance, especially since I want it in my classroom library!
What did I love about this book? Read on to find out
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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.
This was super cute! First of all, I loved how she mentioned one of my favorite YA authors, Jason Reynolds. That was really nice of her to mention his book. That was definitely people helping people right there! I wanted to also state that I understood why her mom didn’t want her to talk to her dad.I understand things are complicated and she wanted to protect her but I just hate when moms keep dads away from their kids on purpose. They do it out of anger and like feel however you feel about the father, let your child make up his or her own mind about the dad. Parents shouldn’t stand in the way of each other being in their child’s life.
loved how the author addressed the justice system and race. This book was very well written. Since it’s from the prospective of a twelve year old, we can see how her young mind worked. She had to get educated with the justice system because she falsely believed how a lot of other people believed, that if you were guilty of a crime, then you went to prison. She didn’t know that lots of innocent people are sent to prison for crimes they didn’t commit. I was glad that she decided to educate herself because no one wants to go through life naive. She asked a very valid question: “What was the point of a legal system if it didn’t work a lot of the time?
I mention that they mentioned race in such a well done way. Zoe and her dad (stepdad) were different races and she mentioned how she was kind of used to people stopping and gawking at them because he was white and she was black (which irks my nerves btw). In the book, Zoe also gave an experience that she had when she was younger when she wanted to go to a friend’s house but the parents didn’t want her to come over because she was black. Or how her and Trevor’s parents had a talk about how to behave around the police. The book also explained using the N-word in such a great way. She said: “Racist people used it. And sometimes other Black people called each other that, which wasn’t racist but wasn’t great. My parents had told me that I should never use that word, and to tell them if anyone ever called me that.”
The my little tomato playlist gave me all the feels because they reminded me of my childhood. But then it got me thinking, like would I have a child Zoe’s age? How old are her parents although they did have her when they were young. Something else that gave me all the feels was Mac and cheese. Her biological dad, Marcus, gave her a family recipe for mac and cheese and I was like yassss! It would’ve been great if they put in a recipe for mac and cheese with the book along with the cereal cupcakes that she made. That would’ve been a nice little surprise. Mac and cheese just reminds me of comfort and of home so I like that little touch that she added to the book.
I give this 4/5 stars! I loved it! It definitely needs to be in classroom libraries and on bookshelves at home.
Title: From the Desk of Zoe Washington
Author: Janae Marks
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Genre: Children/Middle Grade, Fiction, Mystery
Buy it here: Bookshop.org