Review: Counting by 7s

Sloan, Holly Goldberg. Counting by 7s. New York:Dial, 2013. Grades 5-8.

As the cover suggests, twelve-year-old Willow Chance is always swimming against the tide. A genius who is misunderstood by almost everyone around her, she has only had one friend in her life, a girl whose friendship faded after she moved away. Willow aces a difficult exam in record time shortly after beginning at a new middle school. The teacher is convinced Willow cheated and sends her to the principal who refers her for counseling with Dell Duke. She begins to reach out to Mai, the high school Vietnamese girl who brings her brother to counseling sessions that precede Willow’s. Duke is taking all three young people home in his car the day Willow’s parents are killed in a horrific car accident. The police are at the Chance home when Duke pulls into the drive. Mai quickly realizes Willow has no one to help and tells the police they are old family friends and will take her in. They all go to the nail salon managed by Mai’s mother where Mai explains the situation in Vietnamese so the police and social worker do not realize the lie. Thus begins the temporary custody arrangement that changes all their lives. This is a story with plenty of grief and little comic relief. It is not a happy story, but it is a hopeful one. The themes of the healing and transformative powers of nature, service and caring shine through every character.””As the cover suggests, twelve-year-old Willow Chance is always swimming upstream. A genius who is misunderstood by almost everyone around her, she has only had one friend in her life, a girl whose friendship faded after she moved away. Willow aces a difficult exam in record time shortly after beginning at a new middle school. The teacher is convinced Willow cheated and sends her to the principal who refers her for counseling with Dell Duke. She begins to reach out to Mai, the high school Vietnamese girl who brings her brother to counseling sessions that precede Willow’s. Duke is taking all three young people home in his car the day Willow’s parents are killed in a horrific car accident. The police are at the Chance home when Duke pulls into the drive. Mai quickly realizes Willow has no one to help and tells the police they are old family friends and will take her in. They all go to the nail salon managed by Mai’s mother where Mai explains the situation in Vietnamese so the police and social worker do not realize the lie. Thus begins the temporary custody agreement that changes all their lives.

This is a story with plenty of grief and little comic relief. It is not a happy story, but it is a hopeful one. The themes of the healing and transformative powers of nature, service and caring shine through every character.

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About kstreet245

I'm a teacher librarian with Norman Public Schools and adjunct instructor for children's literature at the University of Oklahoma School of Library and Information Studies. I've been married to Ken since 1975, and we have two wonderful children, both married. We have no grandchildren, but instead are "owned" by three dachshunds. We are active members of Country Estates Baptist Church in Midwest City, OK, teaching Sunday School, playing handbells, keyboards, and percussion, and singing in the choir. I enjoy reading, crafts, travel, and nice, long naps when I can work them in!
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