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The Faraway Truth by Janae Marks - Review

Thursday, December 16, 2021

I can't remember where I picked up this book, but it can't have been very long ago as it was hanging around by the side of the bed and I knew I wanted to read it soon, so I picked it up towards the end of November. It's a middle grade book about a girl called Zoe, who is twelve.

She lives near Boston with her mum and her stepdad, who is the only dad she's ever known. At the beginning of the book she has her birthday party at a local cake shop, Ari's Cakes, because she loves to bake. She is with her friends Maya and Jasmine.

Back at home her next door neighbour Trevor comes over. Zoe and Trevor used to be friends, but then Zoe overheard Trevor say something about her to his basketball pals, and got upset, so now she's not talking to Trevor and didn't invite him to her birthday party.

She picks up the mail and notices that there's a letter from her biological dad, Marcus, who is in prison for murdering someone. Zoe has never met him or been allowed to ask questions about him, but now she has this letter. She decides to write back, and gets another letter back from Marcus. She starts to do a little research about Marcus' crime. 

Zoe eventually tells her Grandma, who babysits her during the summer holidays, about the letters. She has had a letter from Marcus saying he's innocent, and Zoe desperately wants that to be true. 

Meanwhile, she is doing an internship at Ari's Cakes and her parents have agreed that if she does well, she'll be able to audition for a kids' baking show. Zoe also does some brainstorming of her own to come up with a new cupcake flavour.

Zoe and her family are Black, and so is Marcus, but her stepdad Paul isn't. She's aware of the reactions that she gets when she's out with a white man. She also discovers through her research that men like Marcus are more likely to be the victims of miscarriages of justice.

I really enjoyed this book - it's a cute middle grade with a good plot and some good sideplots too. I liked the characters and wanted Zoe to succeed! I'm giving this five out of five. 

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