Counting By 7s (hardcover)
by Holly Goldberg Sloan
AR Level 5.6, 10 points
This is the story of a girl named Willow. She is clearly different from her peers (I’m assuming the author looked up autism or Aspergers syndrome to do research). Willow is in the genius range, and is fascinated by medical conditions (especially skin ailments), gardening, and the number 7. She has skills in rebuilding computers, financial planning and organization, and knowledge in general. The story begins when she starts seeing a counselor, Dell Duke, after being accused of cheating on a test. Dell is an underachieving, overweight, and unmotivated human being who does as little as possible to get by. Everyone’s world is turned upside down when Willow’s parents die in a car accident (not a spoiler- we learn this almost immediately). Willow is taken in by Mai’s mother and brother. Mai’s brother is also a student of Dell’s, and we see changes in all of the characters as Willow’s story is told. Each character finds the goodness in another character, and as they learn and grow from their experiences, we also learn and grow from hearing Willow’s story. Spoiler Alert: there are several situations that caused my eyes to fill up with tears, and it wasn’t a book allergy.
What I liked about this book was that it is told from the perspectives of multiple characters, and there are no evil characters in this story. Everyone reveals the good in them, which far overpowers the bad qualities. I think it is refreshing to read a book where all of the characters become better and reveal a positive influence. I also appreciated that although Willow is clearly “different” from other middle school students, no one really makes fun of her. The author hints that she does things that might make people tease her, but the teasing isn’t made obvious in the story. Bullying is not the point of a book about a unique personality.
What I didn’t like about this book was that it is really sad at parts! I cannot imagine losing parents at such a young age, and being a parent myself, it is hard for me to imagine the pain my children would feel without me. I can handle books about death, but for some reason, the pain of losing a parent or a child is overwhelming. It has a wonderful message, however, and despite the sad parts, it is worth the read.
Book 31 of 52