Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan | Book ReviewCounting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Also by this author: Just Call My Name
Published by Penguin on 2013-08-29
Genres: Family, Parents, School & Education, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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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 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. “Holly Goldberg Sloan writes about belonging in a way I’ve never quite seen in any other book. This is a gorgeous, funny, and heartwarming novel that I’ll never forget.”—John Corey Whaley, author of Where Things Come Back

Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan sat on my TBR pile for an embarrassing amount of time. I mean, it had been on my pile for over a year which is kind of sad given that I obtained it at BEA 2013 and was super excited to read it. I mean, it’s a middle grade book — which I already love. It’s a book by an author who has moved me before. It’s a book that seems to promise some hope despite the sad promise. And yet, Counting By 7s just hung out on my TBR. Eventually, I decided it could not wait anymore and that the time was right in my life to finally read Sloan’s middle grade book. I ended up really, really liking Counting By 7s even though it did not quite hit me on the same level as I’ll Be There.

Counting By 7s is about this girl named Willow Chance. She is twelve, she comforts herself by counting by 7s. She has a happy life gardening and learning about medical conditions. Her world changes though when tragedy strikes and her parents are killed in a car crash, leaving Willow orphaned. I should also mention that Willow is adopted and she will need to find her way to family again. Counting By 7s is about how Willow goes from being homeschooled to public school, but also about the bonds that Willow forms and the family that she ends up finding. Willow ends up being sent to the guidance counselor because her teacher thinks she has cheated on this test, when really she just is a genius. While in counseling with this guy named Dell Duke who actually groups kids by labels, Willow ends up meeting this girl Mai, and somehow going home with her. What unfolds is this amazing story of finding your place in this world. Like, it has been a few months since I’ve read this book, but I can still remember ending it with this giant smile and a wow, that was sweet and profound feeling.

Willow Chance is a sweet character. By this, I mean, she has trouble interacting with other people because well, she’s just socially awkward, yet she has a good heart. She does not come across as really judgmental, even when she’s diagnosing people’s medical issues. She’s also a genius. She is so smart, it’s kind of amazing to see the way that her mind works. AND OMG HER QUIRK WITH GARDENS, I love that. I mean, there’s this part where everyone comes together to make a garden and to make something better and it’s just beautiful.

This book really meant something to me. I loved how it was this story of people coming together and maybe rising above their circumstances — a crappy job, no money, no family — and building something beautiful and amazing. It’s like a story of people finding their tribe, so to speak. I am such a sucker for those types of stories and well, I think this is the sort of book to read when you need some cheering up.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Yay! I loved Willow too. She reminded me of a John Green character, and I really got the detail in the garden scene. I loved all the garden stuff, and I’m not really into plants. (They just die on me. ALL. THE. TIME. So I leave them alone. 😉 ) What do you think of the cover? Before I read it I thought the cover looked kind of like more of a younger child’s book. but after I’d read it I thought it was perfect. Also, FISH!!! I love that there are fish!

  2. I’ve been meaning to read Counting by 7s forever, too! Although you certainly got there soon that I did. I’m so glad to hear that you really liked this. I think I’ve been putting it off because I know there will be heartbreaking parts, and I haven’t been ready to deal with those.

  3. This one has hung on my TRB list for a while, and I want it in the worst way. I love the exceptional children novels, and this one simply sounds amazing. I loved Mockingbird, and this one appears to be the perfect companion.

  4. I’ve had this book sitting for awhile too. I’ve had a few students read it and they have really liked it. Plus, I keep reading good reviews of it! I guess I need to get reading it.

  5. Counting by 7s was absolutely delightful! I remember reading this last year, and enjoying it so much more than I ever expected to. Willow Chance was such a lovable, quirky character, and it was easy for me to enjoy her story. Glad you liked this one as well!