Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?
A crime he says he never committed.
Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.
But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies.
I loved the premise of the story— a girl receiving a letter from her prisoner father and solving the mystery of whether he had committed a crime. Although this was a serious topic, the story was narrated through the sweet and innocent voice of twelve-year-old Zoe Washington, who loved baking and wanted to audition for a cooking contest on TV. I loved that the story took a tough subject and conveyed it in a way that a kid could comprehend.
One of the highlights of the novel for me was Zoe’s relationship with her father. It was the first time Zoe had ever heard from her father, who up until now she had thought was a terrible man. I loved how Zoe’s perception of her dad changed over time, how her relationship with him evolved from curiosity to admiration and love.
Zoe’s relationship with her mom, stepdad and grandma were genuine as well. As Zoe learned more about her father, this impacted her relationship with her mother. The evolving family dynamic was one of the most interesting aspects of this novel.
Despite the heavy subject matter, Zoe’s sweet voice made the book a breeze to read. I finished this book in just a few days!
Although it was awesome that Zoe had a passion to be a pastry chef, I didn’t care for the in-depth descriptions of how Zoe baked a cupcake or a cake. I was always itching to read more of Zoe’s letters to her dad and the mystery behind the murder that her father was convicted for! I thought the subplot of the baking contest felt like a distraction from the main plot.
And that’s all! I have few complaints since I loved the book in general.
If you’re in the mood for a sweet and heart-warming MG contemporary novel with a hint of mystery, give this novel a try!