Zoe Washington is sure her twelfth birthday will be her favorite so far. After all, she's gotten a party at a local bakery, and since Zoe loves baking--she dreams of being a contestant on Kids Bake Challenge!--it's just about the best thing she could have hoped for. But then she gets a letter from her birth dad, Marcus, in the mail.
Marcus has been in prison for years. Zoe has never heard from him before, let alone met him. But he sounds nice. Caring. And he says he didn't even commit the crime he's in prison for.
Zoe doesn't think such a thing is possible, and she doesn't have anyone she can really ask, not when her mom would be furious if she knew she was writing to Marcus. So she tries to focus instead on a bakery internship, avoiding her ex-best friend...and hiding her letters to Marcus from her mom. Because she can't stop writing to him, not when she might be able to figure out if Marcus is really innocent.
And if he is--can she help clear his name?
From the Desk of Zoe Washington is a thoughtful and realistic story. The plotline of incarceration feels nuanced and developed, not shying away from it but also never leaving solid middle-grade territory or feeling preachy. Zoe is much more than the protagonists in some middle-grade novels, created solely to illustrate a theme or issue; she has her own preferences, interests, and personality, and feels as though she has a whole life outside of the pages of this book, which I really appreciated. I recommend From the Desk of Zoe Washington to readers ages ten and up looking for an realistic, well-written, and compelling story.