Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan
Release date: 1st May 2014
Genre: Contemporary / Realism / Family & Friendship Stories
Target audience: 9+
UK Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Counting by 7s is a bitter-sweet tale of tragedy, perseverance, friendship and hope. It will make you laugh. It will bring a tear to your eye.
Willow Chance was adopted as a young child and flourished with her new parents but sadly at the beginning of the novel, her life is yet again struck by tragedy and she becomes an orphan. She’s intellectually gifted and not everyone understands her. She tries to make sense of the world in her own unique way. Willow observes plants, animals and diseases and conducts studies into their properties. When her parents pass away, her life is turned upside down. Yet Willow is a change-maker. Her presence impacts the lives of those around her and she transforms others even as she tries not to put down roots.
This story is really easy to get into. Willow’s voice rings clear and you can’t help but like her and admire the things she does for others. Sometimes she doesn’t mean even mean to effect change but it happens anyway. That is what is really charming about her.
The story is written in the first person with Willow as the narrator. But rather unusually, we divert from Willow to read the events experienced by other characters like her counsellor Dell, the taxi driver Jairo and her friend’s mum Pattie. An interesting approach and for this book it works well. It allows you can see the plot coming together and want to see the best possible outcome for Willow.
I think the title doesn’t do this book justice. It is quirky but it doesn’t (for me) capture the spirit of the book. It’s a book about growing towards the sun, about doing good in the world and seeing the best in people. The fact that Willow has a habit like ‘counting by 7s’ is almost irrelevant to the heart of the story. Although it is significant to her as she changes through the course of the novel. It doesn’t really communicate the joy that her influence on others brings into the world and to the reader as they enjoy this book. But whatever the title, this is a wonderful, emotive read that sweeps you into Willow’s world and the Gardens of Glenwood.
Counting by 7s is a heartfelt, endearing book. I really enjoyed reading it. Highly recommended.
Source: Borrowed from the school library