Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

I picked this up simply to cross off another title from this year’s Caudill award nominated books, and I wouldn’t have made it past the first couple chapters if I hadn’t assumed people liked it for a reason.  The protagonist is a little wooden (although that’s definitely part of her genius personality), and I didn’t like the way paragraphs tended to be one sentence long.

BUT THEN.  But then, Counting By 7s became something really beautiful.  Middle grade books have the opportunity to delve into the darkest parts of life (grief, racism, poverty) and address them with simple optimism.  This story was all of that, and it was so refreshing.  It’s not that these issues are resolved easily, but every page is infused with hope.  Whereas an adult novel might veer into something maudlin, Counting By 7s is fierce in its assertion that all things can be endured and overcome.  I loved it. 

81BkR7yeQgLBook Jacket

7 reasons to read this extraordinary novel:

1.  Friendship.  It doesn’t always happen easily, especially for Willow.  But now she has met Mai, a girl with enough energy to tackle the impossible, and one who sees Willow for who she really is.
2.  Oddballs.  We all feel like outsiders sometimes.  Willow the genius–who has mastered several foreign languages and medical-school textbooks all by the age of twelve–certainly doesn’t easily fit in with the crowd.  Neither do the other people in this story filled with terrific, memorable oddballs.
3.  Hobbies.  It helps to have something interesting to focus on, such as Willow’s passion for nature.  When tragedy strikes, it is the simple act of growing sunflowers that first brings her some pleasure again.
4.  Laughing and Crying.  But despite the tragedy, this is a beautiful, satisfying book–the kind that makes you see your own life in a new way.  And through the heartache, you will find yourself laughing…at the wonderfully absurd moments that happen even on the hardest days.
5.  Miracles.  Those unexpectedly silly moments are miraculous.  This is a story filled with everyday miracles.
6.  Family.  And the most miraculous thing of all is a loving family.
7.  Willow Chance herself, whose heart leads her on a path to belonging–a path that is surprising, exhilarating, and without a doubt, one you will never forget.

Release Date:  August 2013

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