Tuesday, August 20, 2013

COUNTING BY 7S by Holly Goldberg Sloan

I don't normally post here on Tuesdays, but I did so much reading this summer, I am already working on posts for October. This book was too good to wait two months to write about it.

Counting by 7s

[I received an advance reader copy of this book at the American Library Association Annual Conference this summer. The book will release on August 29th.]

Willow is a brilliant yet odd girl - she counts by 7s, is fascinated by medical conditions, and aces the standardized tests at school with a perfect score, which gets her sent to counseling for cheating. Through the counselor, Willow meets Mai, a high school student, and her brother Quang-ha. When Willow's parents are killed in a car accident, and she has no one to care for her, Mai insists Willow stay with her family. But Willow knows this can only be temporary. There's no where she truly "belongs" now.

This was lovely. So moving and engrossing. As odd as Willow is, readers will still relate to her. Her descriptions of her grief are stunning. She says things like, "I want to turn off the sun and live in darkness." {As I read an uncorrected proof of the book, this quote might change or be eliminated in the final product - but it is only one example of all sorts of beautiful statements in this book - if this one isn't there, you'll find plenty of others.} Having walked through my own grief experience in the last couple years, I completely identified with Willow's descriptions of her grief. Each of the other characters in this story - Mai; Quang-ha; their mother, Pattie; the school counselor; and a cab driver - evolves over time, just like Willow does, in completely reasonable and beautiful ways.

I would recommend this for readers in 5th grade and older. Any reader who loves material where he/she can really connect with a character emotionally will enjoy Counting by 7s. I will recommend this to my students who have loved books like Love, Aubrey.

5 out of 5 stars
AR reading level of 5.6

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