Title: Counting by 7's Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan Publisher: August 29th 2013 by Dial Format: Hardcover, 384 pages Genre: Young Adult
What a strange experience to read a book that takes place in a nearby town. Maybe that is what endeared the book to me, but more likely, it was Willow herself. The young girl at the center of the story that has her life implode and must find a new normal, a new family and her new place in both.
In a subtle way this book also teaches acceptance - characters whose race, culture and abilities are incidental to, rather than the sole focus of the story.
It is good that twelve-year-old Willow considers herself a bit odd since that is how the world sees her. She is obsessed with nature and medical conditions, she dresses differently, is far too smart for her own good, has poor social skills and from the outside, she might be somewhere on the autism spectrum.
When she appears to have little interest in classroom assignments and activities but scores in the one hundred percentile on standardized tests, she is sent to the counselor’s office for suspected cheating. This is where her world begins to open up.
From the outside, Dell Duke, the counselor, and Mia and Quang-ha, student rebels, are a curiosity to Willow, but on a fateful day when Willow’s world comes crashing down, they are the people that are there for her. Add in Pattie and Jairo, and you have the beginning of a new life. One that is different and diverse, but wonderful at the same time.
The number 7 has always comforted Willow, counting by 7’s, finding groupings of seven, the seven colors of the rainbow, and the seven most important people in her world.
In life, you never know where you will find your comfort, but Willow is lucky, her adoptive parents were there for her and her new family at the Gardens of Glenwood will continue to be there. All of her sevens are vivid and distinct and will forever hold a special place in her heart.
You cannot walk away from this book without hope. You meet an extraordinary girl who is devastated and then watch a rebirth. If only all children who have tragedy enter their lives could be this fortunate. If only all humans could reach out when they see a child in pain.