Review / From the Desk of Zoe Washington

20210604ma_1210Book: From the Desk of Zoe Washington (2020)
Author: Janae Marks
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Zoe looks baking, especially sweet stuff. And her big dream is to be a contestant in a bake-off competition. But Mom and Dad want her to intern at a bakery first. Problem is, she never gets to do any baking there. Meanwhile, she comes across a letter addressed to her from her biological dad, the guy she’s never met because he’s in prison. Now she’s curious about why he’s been locked up, curious enough to start a clandestine correspondence with him. It’s a secret until her grandmother finds out and becomes Zoe’s accomplice …

Opening lines from the book …
The day I turned twelve, I was certain it’d be my favorite birthday yet, but then I got the letter.


1) I loved the creativity Zoe exhibits when she decides to impress the owner of the bakery with her own cupcake recipe. It’s great how it’s partly inspired by the letters from her dad. It was fun to watch the process as Zoe figures it all out. (It kind of made me want to try baking it myself!)

2) The Little Tomato nickname is really cute. And I love how it works into the plot! I mean, it actually becomes very important to the story. It’s neat how father and daughter connect over the songs.

3) Man, that grandma! She and Zoe go behind Mom’s back. I think it’s great how she wants to keep Zoe safe (and makes sure she keeps an eye on the correspondence). Of course, you know it’s all going to blow up in their faces when Mom finds out.

4) Zoe really is a go-getter, isn’t she? She goes out of her way to find out about her dad’s alleged crime and about his supposed alibi. Then she and her next-door neighbour figure out a way to find the alibi. Not sure I’d want kids to be doing this in real life, but putting myself in the shoes of a kid-reader, I’d be all for it!

5) I do love the relationship Zoe has with her stepdad and her mom. It’s nice to read about a happy family not on the brink of divorce.


1) And while I really like the stepdad’s reaction in the story, I also did find it a tad unrealistic. Like does he not feel any sort of jealously toward this other man who was once the love of his now-wife? Not a big deal, but I think relationships are a little more complicated. But maybe Dad is just covering it up really well!


I’ve been meaning to get my hands on this book for some time. I really did enjoy it, and I was rooting for Zoe all the way! I wish I could hire her to bake some delicious treats for my next birthday! 🙂



Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

10 thoughts on “Review / From the Desk of Zoe Washington

  1. Pingback: MMGM for June 7, 2021 | Always in the Middle…

  2. I got a copy of this book as a gift a few months ago, and your review makes me really excited to read it! I love that Zoe creates her own cupcake recipe, and I’m definitely intrigued by how Zoe’s grandmother gets embroiled in the correspondence with her father. Thanks so much for the great review!


  3. Thanks for sharing, as this sounds like a good book to get lost into. Love to see baking in books — especially as a way for Zoe to connect with her dad! I applaud her step-father’s reaction — especially if he is taking himself out of the equation and responding to his love for Zoe and what’s best. If I was Zoe, I’d be looking. (We helped our daughter locate her birth mother and two sisters. We weren’t threatened.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m okay with the stepdad being supportive of Zoe and her relationship with her father (way to go, stepdad!)

      That said, I do think the situation left a bit of an elephant-in-the-room feeling for me. I had definite questions about the stepdad feeling some sort of jealousy, which would feel very natural and honest to me. I guess I’d have liked just one moment where Zoe and Dad (aka the stepdad) have a little talk about this. That Zoe could tell him that she would always call him Dad and that a relationship with Marcus didn’t change their own relationship. And then HE would assure her that he loved her and wanted her to get to know her birth dad, etc. etc. (Sorry, writer-brain coming in!)


  4. There is so much to like about this book. The enticing plot and Zoe made this a favorite read of mine. Very timely as my cousin just found her birth father after years of searching and they recently spent a few days together. Thanks for featuring your review on MMGM this week.


  5. Pingback: My Top Reads… from 2021 | Of Maria Antonia

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