Counting by 7s – Holly Goldberg Sloan

15937108Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Publication Date: August 29th, 2013
Publisher: Dial Books
Point of View: 1st & 3rd Person
Recommended Age: 10+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Grief

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Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life…until now.

Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.


A second can feel like forever if what follows is heartbreak.

Loss. It’s a universal state of feeling. While it’s true that it doesn’t spare anyone, people react differently to it. Still, society has provided us with five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Willow knows this. She is highly gifted. If she could, she would spend entire days studying nature. She can tell you you’re ill just by spending ten minutes in your company. So of course she’s aware that one day losing her adoptive parents won’t hurt so much.

But that doesn’t make her feel better. One cannot suppress their current emotions just by thinking that in a few months they won’t feel this way. That’s not how the world works. It never will. It’s no wonder human beings can feel such various emotions. We care about so many things.

This is the story of six people brought together by a tragic event that will change their lives. The writing style is extremely engaging. I needed reasons to stop reading this book—sleep, school—because otherwise I could have spent hours immersed in it.

The story is creative but realistic; the characters are authentic and likeable. There is even a character development for many of them. The only thing I struggled with was the shift between 1st and 3rd person narration styles. Willow’s chapters are written in the 1st person, while everyone else’s chapters are written in the 3rd person. I preferred the former.

This book will break your heart very quickly, then mend it by exploring the metaphysical concepts of hope and fate.

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One thought on “Counting by 7s – Holly Goldberg Sloan

  1. I read this book this month and loved it! I think the author really captured the essence of grief so well here. I love unique characters, and Willow Chance is definitely a new favorite. I also adored all the eccentric secondary characters. They all just felt so real.

    Lovely review Lola 🙂


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