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Counting by 7s

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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  18,636 ratings  ·  3,039 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
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Hardcover, 380 pages
Published August 29th 2013 by Dial Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Lorraine This book ends in the best possible way a book about the death of a child's parents could end. I loved it.
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 92 books — 416 voters
The School for Good and Evil by Soman ChainaniThe Runaway King by Jennifer A. NielsenRump by Liesl ShurtliffThe Ability by M.M. VaughanThe Clay Lion by Amalie Jahn
Middle Grade Novels of 2013
11th out of 356 books — 689 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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TheBookSmugglers
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
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Donalyn
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.
Stephanie
Great coming of age book!!!

It was sad, heartwarming, and wonderfully funny at parts. It is a "children's book", but reads more like a YA and has elements that will capture the heart of an adult.

From a full disclosure perspective, I am odd and I believe that my husband and son are a bit different as well... It is a lot easier to be weird as an adult than as a youngster going through middle school. Kids can be cruel and it is not fun to feel friendless in a world full of people!

With that being sa
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Patricia
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
Shelley
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
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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
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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
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Whitney Atkinson
3.5 stars

I'm a bit disappointed in this. It started out with a flashback that didn't end for about 50 pages, and I loved everything then. The main character is so smart and quirky and such a role model. But then it snaps back to reality when she's trying to recover from a family tragedy and I found that the book got really boring. Her bright and intelligent personality went away, and I couldn't make sense of a lot that happened with the plot. I didn't understand a lot of the character interactio
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Kristine
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.

-RANT-
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
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Sam
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
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Snotchocheez
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
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Philip
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
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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
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Dimity Powell
I can not fault this sophisticated tween / teen read. Artful, moving, witty and intensely humble. Sure I cried in parts, but do not expect to be swept away by sentimentality. Willow, the higher thinking, twice orphaned 'problem' everyone grows to cherish doesn't allow it. Instead she becomes the unexpected catalyst that sparks relationships and lives back into life. An astoundingly clarifying look at the complicated world of human relationships and emotions. Uplifting indeed.
Elsie
This book was very slow at the start and nothing was really happening, but as I continued to read more deeper into the book I loved it. Willow chance (the main character) was weird, quirky and funny. 8-15 year olds will definitely enjoy reading this book. Now a quote from counting by 7s 'if your lost you may have to swim against the tide'
Londa
STANDING OVATION!!

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.
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Lexi Herondale
This was a lovely story, but I feel that it dragged on. And sometimes the whole Willow-POV-and-then-the-author-would-talk-about-pretty-much-every-character-in-3rd-person a bit distracting and confusing.
Minako Morin
I'm giving this book two stars instead of one, because I WAS able to finish it. And the only reason I finished it is that my 11-year old son, whose usual choice of book genre is fantasy/adventure/sci-fi, absolutely loved this book and devoured it in just two days, and I wanted to see what was so fascinating about the story.

But I don't get it. I had to really push my way through the entire book. I was already one-third of the way in when I thought FINALLY the story is sort of, kind of, maybe, st
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Cathy Blackler
THIS REVIEW IS A RESULT OF READING AN ADVANCED READING COPY.

"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
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Bekka
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
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Adair Brooks
If anyone asks what a mary sue is, have them take a look at this book. She supposed to be all special (barf) by being literally impossibly advanced and annoyingly condescending. Also, the author expects us to believe that a 12 year old can learn fluent Vietnamese in TWO WEEKS!!!! A COLLEGE PROFESSOR COULDN'T LEARN ANY LANGUAGE IN TWO WEEKS! Her parents die in an unexciting, cliche way her cliche poor friend who she's known for two weeks takes her in. Some random taxi driver thinks she's a god, a ...more
Trisha
While the grief is tangible and lasts right up to the last word, this book is also filled with kindness, bravery and of course, love.

It's amazing to think how many lives Willow affects. Some directly, and some in strange random ways. But no matter, her voice is pure and clear, even when she's drowning in uncertainty and fear.

It's also quite funny, and all the characters are worth getting to know. And if it ends too neatly and conveniently, well, I do not care.

Highly enjoyable.
Harun Harahap
Banyak yang bilang kalau hanya lelaki yang mengedepankan logika. Tetapi ternyata itu tidak sepenuhnya benar. Anda harus mengenal Willow Chance, gadis remaja 12 tahun ini berpikir dan bertindak sangat logis. Mungkin karena dia jenius dan memiliki pengetahuan yang luar biasa luas. Sehingga apapun yang dilihat dan didengar, ia analisis secara keseluruhan.

Banyak orang mengalami tragedi. Salah satunya kehilangan orangtua. Willow pun begitu. Tidak satu, tetapi dua. Dalam satu waktu. Bayangkan kalau it
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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.
Jennifer Siddiqui
Sweet story about a special girl who deals with the harsh reality of losing both parents and never giving up.
Amanda
Simply amazing. I have never seen a book like this. Its like it almost started its own category. I know the ending was written to be happy, though I found it sad.

Willow Chance is a genius, even if she does feel lost. Her adopted parents had a sudden accident and were gone forever. She starts to live with a new friend, Mai, Mai's brother and mother, in their mothers garage behind their mothers nail salon. She is not herself anymore, not obsessing over health conditions or plants. In order for h
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Emily
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,
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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
Claire
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
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Christine
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
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2015 Reading Chal...: Counting by 7's 1 8 Jul 18, 2015 07:54AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan 1 7 Jun 07, 2015 04:15AM  
Was the ending predictable to you? 10 50 Jan 28, 2015 09:59PM  
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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.” 41 likes
“When you care about other people, it takes the spotlight off your own drama.” 37 likes
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