Monday, November 17, 2014

A Review of 'Counting By 7s' by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Audio Book)

"In the tradition of Out of My Mind, Wonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family.

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."

I love this book.  Willow is a girl who is incredibly smart and very much herself.  She takes pleasure in cultivating plants and diagnosing medical conditions.  I wasn't quite sure whether I should be wary of her or to be charmed by her.  In the end, I was charmed.

It was devastating for her when, for the second time, she loses her parents.  But it was also really neat how she goes about handling her life after this awful tragedy.  Willow grows up much faster than a twelve-year-old should have to, but it was awesome how she rolled with the punches-- living with a new family in a space the size of a garage, manipulating her therapist and taking control of how she wants to handle matters like her education.

My favorite part was when she looked at the barren courtyard of her therapist's apartment and decided to make a project out of it.  She wanted to grow sunflowers.  So she drew up a plan that needed to be shown to the higher-ups in the government and everyone was so blown away by what Willow proposed that of course her plan was approved.

I believe that this is a middle school read.  I'm definitely going to get a set of copies of this book for my classroom (when I have one).  I think middle schoolers will like it because it is about overcoming hardships, persevering, and taking ownership.  Things that all middle schoolers will have to handle whether that hardship is small, like struggling to turn in homework, or big, like losing a family member.

I love 'Counting By 7s,' I love the cover so very much, and I love the story itself.

I give 'Counting By 7s':
Thanks for Reading!


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