Counting by 7s
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Counting by 7s

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  8,698 ratings  ·  1,815 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 29th 2013 by Dial (first published January 1st 2013)
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Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg SloanNavigating Early by Clare VanderpoolDoll Bones by Holly BlackEscape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris GrabensteinFlora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Newbery 2014
1st out of 94 books — 359 voters
The Runaway King by Jennifer A. NielsenThe School for Good and Evil by Soman ChainaniThe False Prince by Jennifer A. NielsenRump by Liesl ShurtliffThe Ability by M.M. Vaughan
Middle Grade Novels of 2013
12th out of 324 books — 593 voters

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Original review posted on The Book Smugglers

Warning: this review contains spoilers

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when I fell out of love with Counting by 7s but it happened slowly yet inexorably in the hours after I finished reading it.

On the surface, this is an innocuous book, full of good intentions: it is a book featuring different stories about diverse PoC characters (including its protagonist). It is also a beautiful story about different kinds of families, about deep connect...more
I work at an elementary school and over the years I've met hundreds of children. The vast majority of them lie in the great bell of the bell curve, but there have been a smattering of outliers over the years. They've been weird, because that's what it means to be hanging out on the edges of the curve, and for some of them I've taken a deep breath, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best for them in middle school. Because their weird makes them fabulous kids and will make them fabulous adults....more
My friend, Colby, has been raving about this book for months, but I was afraid it would make me cry. It did, but not in the ways I expected. This heartbreaking story is filled with laughter, hope, and light. Willow is an unforgettable character and her story will resonate with anyone who has suffered loss or change. The secondary characters are interesting and well-drawn. In a sea of great middle-grade books this year, Counting by 7s is a standout.
An excellent introduction to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl phenomenon for kids. Watch the quirky, plucky, feisty, vocabulary obsessed orphan genius change the lives of everyone around her, just by existing. Whoo.

Obviously, not wowed. It had a very magical world sort of feel to it, a bit of fairy tale in its oddness. They kept saying she was a genius, but except for a few offscreen things (passing tests for adults), you never felt that. Also, before her parents' deaths (which, how odd to have the di...more
Sam Bloom
There is no such thing as a perfect book.
But I believe pretty strongly that there IS such a thing as the right book at the right time for the right person.
Counting by 7s was the right book at the right time for me. And for that reason I will probably love it forever.
But it certainly isn't a perfect book. In fact, there were some issues that, at many times, would have been deal breakers for me.
Like the author's apparent aversion to paragraphs. What's wrong with writing in paragraphs? Why the need...more
The Reading Countess
It's hard to garner five stars from me. Four stars? Yes. But five? That's nearly impossible. If Goodreads had seven stars, I would award it just that.

This is the story of Willow, a genius who simply has never fit in-until tragedy strikes and she is forced to find her niche in a world that simply doesn't seem to have space for someone like her. Or does it?

Counting By 7s is about what truly makes a family, about acceptance and the human spirit to overcome and adapt. It's about being open and conf...more
4.5 stars Best of the Year So Far - Review to Come

This book is far from perfect, but the strongest book I've read so far this year. Willow is a 12-year-old prodigy who's been adopted by parents with very little other family. Right at the start, her parents die in a car accident.

Let me get this out of the way first: I loathe dead parent/grandparent books. It's just such an exhausted literary trope for me that it grates against my consciousness in all imaginable ways. So let me get my beef...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Gah, the adorableness of this book. Middle grades can be so good, because they give that focus on family so often wanting from YA, and I just love the family of colorful characters brought together here. Counting by 7s is an enchanting middle grade novel with a lot of heart.

One of my favorite stories to see in fiction, aside from a slow burn hate to love relationship is that of a family forming out of people who aren't necessarily related. Sure, a lot of people love their birth families, but ju...more
Feb 08, 2014 Philip rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everybody
Recommended to Philip by: Jacki Fulwood
Shelves: young-adult
SNOW DAY!!! WOO HOO! I woke up and started reading this as I ate my breakfast. I had coffee and coffee cake... again. Then I played with the kids some. Then I told them, back off... I was reading. Then we built a snow fort. Then I read. Dinner. Read. Put the kids to bed. Read. My wife said, "Philip... there's no way we're having another snow day tomorrow. You should really turn off the light."

I had 20 pages left. 20 pages... It feels SOOOOooooo good to be so into a book that the only thing you w...more
The entire time I read this, there was an arhythmic thumping in the back of my head. It was (I think) an un-cadent tattoo to remind me it seems like I've read variations on this book's theme a dozen or more times. (It doesn't help that the book I've just started reading after this one (The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt) has nearly the same exact plot points as this one, just written for a significantly more mature audience),

An overfamiliar theme (a child's grief after losing his or her parents) is n...more

I have this slightly odd habit. I only do it when I encounter a truly fantastic book, and well it happened last night.

See... I usually start reading a book while standing at the bar in my kitchen. Everything lands there when we get home...library books, school work, junk and not-so-junk mail. Most of the time, when I get a new book, being the nerd I am, I can't help but read the first few pages. From there I USUALLY put the book on the shelf, or in my bag, or somewhere else....more
Counting by 7s is the story of Willow Chance, a precocious 12-year-old whose parents are killed in an automobile accident. It details the aftermath of this tragedy, and Willow's attempts to build a new life and a new home with a cast of other people who don't quite fit in.

The book is getting a fair amount of awards buzz, and a lot of reviewers have really positive things to say about it. Having finished it, however, I find myself unpersuaded.

The biggest problem I had is with Willow herself. I di...more
I wasn't sure what to make of this book at first, but all of the quirky, eccentric characters grew on me, and by the time I finished, I loved the family they'd become; each person -- child or adult -- had something to contribute and the sum of their parts made everyone whole.

The main character, 12-year old Willow, is a genius and her read of social situations, people, and procedures suggest she's likely on the Autism/Aspergers spectrum, although it's never explicitly stated. She loves gardening,...more
Willow Chance is a self admitted oddity, she knows she is 'different'. She was a baby 'of color' (her words) adopted by an adoring couple who are so white she comments that they are kind of blue. They are a warm, loving, accepting family that has carved a happy life in their little corner of Bakersfield.
When Willow enters middle school - a flawed experiment if there ever was one- she is accused of cheating on a standardized test and is sent to the district counselor. This lands her in small off...more
Sally Kruger
Willow Chance is a twelve year old genius. She has an amazing retention for medical facts and a real knack for plants and nature. One of her favorite pastimes is counting by 7s. Although she doesn't have many friends, she lives a happy, full life with her adoptive parents.

All the happiness ends when Willow's parents are tragically killed in a car accident. With no relatives available to care for Willow, she ends up in temporary foster care with a Vietnamese woman and her son and daughter. Willow...more
Cathy Blackler

"I would live here at Beale Memorial Library, if it were any kind of viable option...I know that I need a bed, and I like to take frequent baths and showers. Brushing my teeth is very important and not just because of the proven connection between poor oral hygiene and heart attacks.

But as I walk through the double doors of this place I do wish that it were possible. Because:

books = comfort

To me anyway.

And comfort is a thing of the p...more
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan is one of the best books for upper middle grades (perhaps into YA) I've read in a long time. I literally have read almost 200 pages in the past day in order to finish!

I love books especially that touch me and teach me through the characters in those books. There are several connections I made to it. There is tragedy and people, without hesitation, step up to do what is needed. There is sadness, yet this young girl, Willow Chance, finds hope, even after te...more
Rachel Watkins
I loved this book but will recommend it to middle grade readers with consciousness. It's not for everyone. The protagonist is brilliant and loses both of her (adopted) parents in a tragic car wreck. Written from multiple perspectives with lots of foresight into human vulnerability. I was spellbound. Great sophisticated read for mature middle grade readers.
Willow Chance is one of those characters I will love forever. But I wonder if part of why I loved the book so much is because I'm an adult reading it. Many of Willow's insightful "reflections on life" kinds of quotes hit home for me, but wonder if they will as much for kids.

That aside, love the book. Even as Willow encounters tragedy after tragedy, even as group foster care and leaving those she loves looms large, there's still a sense of hope. I know Katherine Paterson is an incredible writer,...more
I absolutely loved this book. Beautiful characters and she depicted the emptiness of grief in a way I strongly identify with. Wonderful story that made me laugh and cry.
Josie Wolter
best book EVER
Carol Royce Owen
OK, I'm ready to talk about it now. It's been two days since I finished Counting by 7s, and I have to say, finishing this book was the hardest thing for me. I didn't want it to end. Willow Chance is an extremely gifted adopted twelve year old who starts seeing a counselor after she is falsely accused of cheating on the state standardized test because she not only aced it, but did so in 17 minutes and 47 seconds. Her parents don't know she is seeing the counselor because Willow wants them to beli...more
I didn't even read the synopsis of this book when I threw my name into the hat to try and win a copy. Hey, I mean lucky 7 right?

In the end, I am so glad that I did win the copy of this book to read and review. It truly was a heartwarming story about a fantastic young lady who has gone through terrible heartbreak and loss after her parents are killed in an accident.

While the premise may sound a bit cookie cutter, Willow was not. She was the smartest and most entertaining character that I have re...more
Chris Mclean
This book is being hyped as being like Wonder or To Kill a Mockingbird. It is not, unless you count the voice of a damaged narrator intermingled with other characters' voices (like Wonder) or that the narrator is more mature than one would expect (like TKM).

It is a great novel - one with a narrator whose voice resonates. Willow is 12 and adopted and autistic and "a person of color" whose adoptive parents are very, very white. She loves plants and medicine and is very smart. She has no real socia...more
Jun 14, 2013 Muphyn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Muphyn by: Penguin at BEA 2013
ARC received at BEA 2013. Thank you! :)

It's a really sweet story about a twelve-year-old who is super-gifted and loses both her (adopted) parents in a car crash. Partially written from the point of view of Willow - which gives great insight into her almost autistic behaviour and obsession with the number 7, growing things (plants) and human disease - and told from the perspective of people who step into her life post-accident.

Some of the turns seemed a little too contrived and the ending is a bi...more
I LOVED this book on so many levels. I requested an ARC, not knowing anything about it, and it took me a chapter to hook me in. I didn't adore the lyrical style of the writing at first, but once characters were established and more deeply rendered, I was absolutely propelled. Protagonist Willow Chance is a genius--she has encyclopedic knowledge of medical conditions and botany; she is self-taught in Vietnamese (in order to communicate with her friend's family), etc. -- but not just in an academi...more
Alyse Liebovich
"It's sort of tragic that we can't remember the earliest of the early years. I feel as if these memories could be the key to the whole 'Who am I?' question." (page 15)

This is another ARC I received for free at ALA (and got signed by the author!) after hearing high praise--"The 'Wonder' of 2013"--at the Harold Washington Book Buzz event a day prior.

It's hard not to love Willow and the way she interacts with all living people and creatures, be it a Vietnamese family, her guidance counselor, a tax...more
If I could give this book more than five stars, I would! It's my pick for the Newbery! I absolutely love the story of Willow Chance and her struggle against the world after her parents are taken from her. She is taken in by a Vietnamese family while she awaits her fate in the foster home system. A truly gifted girl, Willow must learn to alter her world and do the best with the hand she's been dealt. Through it all, her favorite place remains the library because: "books=comfort. To me anyway." Ho...more
Thanks to Edelweiss and Dial Books for Children for early access to this title.

This is a BEAUTIFUL book! I started crying somewhere around chapter 24, and laugh-cried-laughed pretty much the rest of the book. There are some great laugh out loud moments, but there are some gut-wrenching things as well. Willow Chance is our heroine - an incredibly smart, unusual girl who experiences the worst thing any kid can go through. The people she meets and the events that happens to her - and that she cause...more
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Was the ending predictable to you? 3 12 Aug 30, 2014 06:10AM  
Henrico Youth Boo...: Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan 2 28 Nov 13, 2013 08:18AM  
Mock Newbery 2015: September Read - Counting by 7s 41 228 Nov 06, 2013 08:27AM  
Free Book Giveaway: GIVEAWAY! Autographed copy of Counting by 7s 2 17 Oct 14, 2013 11:08AM  
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Holly Goldberg Sloan was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and spent her childhood living in California, the Netherlands, Istanbul, Washington, DC, and Oregon. She has written and directed a number of successful family feature films. The mother of two sons, Holly lives with her husband in Santa Monica, California. I'll Be There was her debut novel (she earlier had written a middle reader book called Ke...more
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“For someone grieving, moving forward is the challenge. Because after extreme loss, you want to go back.” 23 likes
“When you care about other people, it takes the spotlight off your own drama.” 21 likes
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