“This powerful debut packs both depth and sweetness, tackling a tough topic in a sensitive, compelling way. An extraordinary, timely, must-read debut about love, family, friendship, and justice.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"This exceptionally sweet debut from Marks illustrates profound cracks in the American criminal justice system while telling an affecting story grounded in the middle-grade experience. The troubling ways race affects the characters…will facilitate important conversations about racial profiling and incarceration rates for people of color. Fortunately, Marks’ capable storytelling and engaging characters also combine into a wondrous confection of a book, full of heart and hope and promise.”
— Booklist (starred review)
"Debut author Marks seamlessly weaves timely discussions about institutionalized racism into this uplifting and engaging story that packs an emotional punch."
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A smart, necessary, and hopeful middle grade debut that expertly balances a gentle, heartwarming tone with searing insight into systemic racism.”
— School Library Journal (starred review)
“Marks delivers a spirited central character whose determination to get to the truth is admirable. An involving family story, this novel could also serve as an introduction to social justice for elementary schoolers."
— Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
"Never heavy-handed, Marks’ prose is as sweet as one of Zoe’s confections. And as the icing on the cake, From the Desk of Zoe Washington
imparts important lessons about judging other people, whether by the color of their skin or by their presumed guilt or innocence."
“Marks tackles the complex costs of the pursuit of justice and motivates readers to feel equipped—and energized—to stand up for what’s right, right now. Readers will recognize that, like Zoe Washington, they need not wait until they grow up to make their actions count.”
— Tanita S. Davis, author of Mare’s War
“A delightful confection of a novel! Zoe is a wondrous heroine who inspires a deeper love for food, family, and friends. Advocating for social justice, she creates a new recipe for a better, sweeter world. An enticing and enthralling debut from Janae Marks.”
— Jewell Parker Rhodes, New York Times
bestselling author of Ghost Boys
“A touching, tender, and absorbing read!”
— Jodi Kendall, author of The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City
“With a dash of mystery, sprinkle of passion, and whole lot of heart, From the Desk of Zoe Washington
has found a winning recipe.”
— Coe Booth, author of Kinda Like Brothers
"[A] marvelous debut novel by Janae Marks for middle-grade readers... a compelling mystery... Marks has managed to write a middle-grade novel that explores racial justice issues and addresses the routine bias Zoe faces while also dealing with coming-of-age issues... The book serves as a valuable introduction to The Innocence Project for its target audience."
— Buffalo News