Wednesday, April 6, 2016

MG Realistic Fiction Review: Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

15937108Counting by 7s  by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Format:  Paperback
Publisher: Dial Books

Number of Pages: 400
Published:  September 16th 2014

Source:  Fellow blogger Jill The Owl via a Giveaway on her blog
Genre:   MG Realistic Fiction 

I read Counting by 7s while on Spring Break, which worked out really well given a had a large chunk of time uninterrupted.   The story begins as Willow and her new friends are returning home from a trip for ice-cream with their school counselor.  As they approach Willow's house,  they spot a police car waiting out front.  At first, Willow thinks she is in trouble with her adoptive parents, but soon learns the horrible news that they died in a car accident.  Everything Willow knows turns upside down, where will she go, who will take her?  Why didn't her adoptive parents make plans for her care in the event something were to happen to them?   This is the crux of the story,  family.  For Willow, it has always been her adoptive parents who've understood her the best, but now that they are gone, everything changes.  The story picks up two months prior to the events, relating Willow meeting the people she went for ice-cream with, and just how and why they become so important to her.  Willow is absorbed by grief over the loss of her parents, and although Mai doesn't know Willow well at first, she is quick to recognize how lost Willow is.  Mai convinces her mother to take Willow in, which at first is supposed to be a temporary fix.  Instead, it causes some interesting complications to the housing arrangements, and concerns that Mai and her family might not be up to child welfare standards for taking Willow in.  Mai and her family then enlist Dell's (the school counselors) help and take over his apartment to show Willow has a stable place to live.  

Willow is such an interesting character,  with her love of growing things, counting by 7s and unique ability to diagnosis someone's medical condition with her keen observational skills.  Since the story is told from Willow's POV,  you get to see the inner dialogue of a genius as she contemplates others emotions and you get a feel for what makes her so unique.  How many kids can diagnosis a possible cancer from a mole on someone's neck? Willow really grows from someone who sees herself as an outsider at school to accepting herself, having friends and a family who accept and love her.  So, why didn't I absolutely love Counting by 7s?  I think it's was the school counselor Dell.  He didn't work for me.  He's very incompetent at what he does, not able to provide any semblance of help to Willow or Mai's brother.  Even Willow recognizes that he doesn't really seem to know what he is doing.  Since he was an integral part of the story, it really saddened me with the way that he treated Willow, he develops this labeling system for the children that was just wrong.  Dell really got in the way of me completely enjoying this.  That being said, I've still been thinking about Willow.  


  1. Too bad this didn't work for you. I'm intrigued by the adoption element to the story. It would be so hard for Willow to lose her parents after the loss that goes with adoption.

    1. Yeah first she is put up for adoption and then both of those parents die, she is understandably distraught. I think the bigger message ended up being how families come in many different shapes.

  2. I have been wanting to read this one since I first saw it. The cover and title really caught my attention. Sorry you didn't love this one, but I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I love the name Willow! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Counting by 7s is a treasure. My children, 12 and up, all ready it. Powerful story.