Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

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 picked up a digital copy of Counting by 7s at School Library Journal’s Summer Teen Virtual event. In short, this beautiful and touching middle grade story follows twelve year old, Willow Chance as she overcomes heartbreaking grief. Willow’s fascination with plants, medical issues, and the number 7 all play a key role in her healing. However, it is the diverse cast of well-developed characters, including a Vietnamese nail salon owner, taxicab driver, and deadbeat counselor that teach Willow the true meaning of family. While I loved the authenticity of these individuals, I truly hope that someone like Dell wouldn’t be able to slip through the school system and use unorthodox methods to counsel children. Scary!

Although I found the ending predictable, I really loved this sad, yet beautiful contemporary book. Willow’s story will completely absorb readers and warm your heart.

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