Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

From about Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan:

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.

A few words from me:

Published in 2013, this award winning book, made me question the author's choice to take the story the way she did. What would the story have been like if the parents hadn't died in the beginning, and instead, the family faced the illness of the mother? It may not have been a better story, but I wonder how it would have played out.

Holly Goldberg Sloan writes characters well. I felt like I knew her characters, what they would do, how they would act, what they might smell like even. The writing is well done, and I couldn't put this book down. I read it all in one day.

I loved Willow's tie to nature and all things growing. I loved her growth over the course of the novel. I loved her friendships and her impact on those around her. Jairo, the taxi driver, is wonderful. He treats Willow like the treasure she is, and gives her respect and protection. Pattie and her children are also wonderfully written. Her counselor, Dell, starts out as a schmuck, but he is also influenced by Willow. She seems to have a green thumb for plants and people.

The lexile measure of 770 makes this a fairly quick read for middle school students. The font size is a bit larger, and this book has plenty of white space for students who struggle with small tight text. The story and characters are complex enough that adults will enjoy the story as well.

This is a book that will help you embrace your own differences.

Read to a child today even if that child is you.

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