“If you’re lost, you might need to swim against the tide”
Holly Goldberg Sloan, author of Counting By 7’s, tells the amazing story of twelve year old Willow Chance. Nervous and anxious about her transition to middle school, oddball and genius Willow tries to navigate her new life in middle school. At the age of twelve, Willow already speaks multiple languages, reads medical textbooks but doesn’t have very many friends. After her parents die in a car accident, Willow’s world falls apart and she’s forced to find a way to put herself back together. Without any other family members, the place where Willow will call home is left uncertain.Through the pain of her loss, she finds comfort in what she loves most: nature and learning.Willow soon discovers that all the pain and hurt in life is all just temporary.
I would give this book a 4/5 stars. I liked the sense of community that was formed in order to help Willow cope with the tragic events that had happened to her. Willow’s new friend Mai was an area of comfort and support for Willow during her troubled times. I also enjoyed that while Willow is the main character and most of the story is told in first person from her point of view, certain chapters are written to tell the stories of those around her. By knowing what Willow is thinking, the reader is able to connect with Willow and her struggles. When the story is written in the perspective of the other characters, personal questions that Willow has wondered about other characters are releveled. However, I did not like that throughout the book, Willow did not show much emotion or sensitivity towards the fact that her parents died, which decreased the credibility of the novel. I believe that this element of the novel was done intentionally in order to make the book less about grief and more about overcoming obstacles.
Counting by 7s is an exceptional novel that redefines family, life,, and what it means to be an oddball. The community of misfits that somehow formed a family created a family unlike any other.