From the Desk of Zoe Washington

Book review by Barbara Saunders, Common Sense Media
From the Desk of Zoe Washington Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 8+

Girl works to clear her father of a crime in smart tale.

Parents say

age 13+

Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 9+

Based on 6 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A Lot or a Little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Stands out for and .

Community Reviews

age 17+

Vivid murder scene

A letter from her incarcerated father brings up a murder report in vivid detail! Propagates violence and is absolutely not age appropriate! Author claims she pulls from the pod cast “serial” an adult murder case. Market to a different age group!

This title has:

Too much violence
age 8+

Zoe, a girl who has goals for herself and knows how to go after them.

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 she’s 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 goals... one is to prove her father’s innocence and two, as an aspiring pastry chef, she sets her sights on perfecting her baking skills. She plans to audition as a contestant on Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge. After receiving the letter from her father, Zoe does something she has never done before, she begins Withholding the truth from her mother in order to correspond with her biological father. As it always does, and one lie leads to another and another. In the letters Marcus shares his favorite songs and encourages Zoe’s baking-competition dreams. “He seems really nice!” Then, when Marcus proclaims he is innocent, Zoe is shocked: How could someone who is innocent end up in prison? This was a realistic reaction for a 12 year old. Somehow Zoe has convinced her grandmother, (her mother’s mother), to help carry on the secret correspondence with her father. She even arranges phone communication between Zoe and Marcus. As Zoe’s enlightenment begins, she learns about systemic racism and how black people like her and Marcus are more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder than white people. There are some well developed and powerful relationships among all the characters: Zoe, her mother, her step dad, grandma, Marcus, and best friend Trevor. This debut novel is extraordinary, timely, and a must-read story about love, family, friendship, and justice. (Fiction. 8-12)

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Book Details

Our Editors Recommend

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

  • Click to see more titles about cooking and baking
    Cooking and Baking
    See all
  • Cartoon picture of luggage and a map
    See all
  • Cartoon hands high fiving
    See all

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate