REVIEW: Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

REVIEW: Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Counting B y 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Publication Date: 2013

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.
counting by 7s
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. –Goodreads

There are two reasons why I chose to read this book:

  1. A student recommended it to me and constantly asked if I had read it yet. She was adamant that I should read it. I regret that I waited this long to read it.
  2. I was intrigued by the cover. A red fish, in a sea of blue fish, swimming the opposite way. There are so many meanings you could gather from this cover. I love when an author is creative with their cover art.

I started this book at 10 o’clock at night after finishing The Hobbit. I did not stop reading until 11:30 and when my Kindle displayed that I only had 1 hour and 30 minutes left in the book, I seriously considered staying up even later and finishing. This would not be a smart choice though, I have an early-rising daughter who would not have much sympathy for my tiredness. So, I did not finish it right away. However, every free second I had, I read this book. I just finished it and am sad that it is over. It has been a few months since I’ve read something so intriguing and inspiring. I could not put this book down or out of my mind, and this is the best part of being a reader.

My Review:

I give this book FIVE STARS and here is why:

This is a tragic story and one that makes you think. (The best kind of books make you think!) It makes you think about your family, about others’ families, about what you would do if you experienced the loss of a parent, about how you can find yourself when you feel so totally isolated and different. This book is with-a-doubt perfect for middle grade students because of the inner struggles of Willow. She is different, misunderstood, and has difficulty in expressing herself. She is trying to rediscover herself in a sea of chaos and “temporary” circumstances. Aren’t we all during this time in our lives? Some of us are stricken with more tragedy than others, but we all feel misunderstood and uncertain.

Some of my favorite themes of this book:

  • The color red
  • Nature
  • Connectivity
  • Growth

Some of my favorite quotes:

  • “It’s possible that all labels are curses. Unless they are on cleaning products. Because in my opinion, it’s not really a great idea to see people as one thing.”
  • “The human corpse flower has blossomed.”
  • “Right now I’m the sunflower. Temporary, but attaching myself to the ground underneath me. The garden is challenging me, as always, to see my own situation. My court hearing is next month. I’ll be read. I’m not sure for what exactly. But maybe that’s what being ready really means.”

I recommend this book to readers who feel different than others. I also recommend to readers who enjoy reading about characters who despite the challenges the world throws at them, grow and discover who they really are.

Share your thoughts on this spectacular book.

Happy reading!


I am a middle school teacher who loves to read ALL KINDS of books. I am part of the ARC-sharing group LitReviewCrew, a co-creator for the YouTube Channel Legit KidLit and the Podcast Read to Write KidLit. Check out my Linktree for more:

There is 1 comment for this article
  1. Pingback: July Wrap Up and August TBR – Mrs. Book Dragon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *