From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks Review

From the desk of Brittany, I give this book five out of five stars.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington follows Zoe Washington, a middle student and aspiring baker, who receives a letter from her father in prison on her twelfth birthday. Zoe’s never communicated with her father, so in secret, Zoe starts sending him letters. When Zoe’s father tells her he is innocent in a letter, Zoe becomes determined to find evidence that will overturn the guilty verdict.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington

As I mentioned in my Front Desk review earlier this month, I love middle grade that perfectly balances tough topics with a lot of heart. Like with Front Desk, From the Desk of Zoe Washington also presented readers with difficult, relevant issues, with a spunky protagonist who stands up for other people.

One aspect of this book that I think this author nailed was how she discussed the prison system in this country and how many innocent people are imprisoned every year due to factors outside of their control. For example, Zoe’s father couldn’t afford a lawyer when he was convicted, so the state appointed him one. Consequently, the lawyer wasn’t invested in Zoe’s case, to the point where he wouldn’t track down a witness to confirm her father’s alibi. As a result, her father was wrongfully convicted of murder. Marks exposes readers of all ages to a relevant issue in our country, which can generate conversations surrounding this topic for readers of all ages.

Another aspect of middle grade that I enjoy is a spunky protagonist with a lot of heart, which is the perfect description of Zoe. Although Zoe has experienced racism, she never knew that it extended into the prison system in our country. Once Zoe learns about this issue, she will do whatever it takes to stand up for what is right. Additionally, Zoe wants to be a famous baker. Even though no Black girl has ever won a baking competition on television, she puts in hard work to achieve her dream by helping out at a local bakery. I think many readers will admire Zoe’s determination to reach her dreams and her persistence help other people.

Overall, From the Desk of Zoe Washington was another great middle grade book that I’ve read this year. I give this book five out of five stars.

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