Counting by 7s ~ Holly Goldberg Sloan

counting by 7sSummary:  I may have found a theme in the 2014 Black Eyed Susan books.  So far, I’ve read this one and After Iris, and they both focus strongly on family, anti-social girls, and tragic events.  Like Blue in After Iris, the main character of this book, Willow Chance, prefers being alone.  Willow is a super-genius.  Her hobbies include tending her exotic backyard garden, learning new languages, and diagnosing medical problems.  Even though her obvious oddity makes people steer clear of her, her life is going along pretty well until her adoptive parents die.  That’s how the book starts, actually, so I didn’t just spoil the whole story for you.  After the accident, Willow has no idea where to go.  This amazing, heartfelt book follows Willow through her journey to find a new family where she can be accepted as she is.

Recommendation:  I was sort of traumatized when I started this book.  Here you have a novel with a pretty cover and recommendations that describe it as wonderful and sweet, and then you start reading and BOOM!  Two people die.  After that, the book becomes less shocking.  I was addicted to Counting by 7s, even though it got more and more sad as it went along, almost to a painful level.  I like reading books that feature smart characters, but only when they match the voice of the book.  You can tell the author is smart too because the book ‘thinks’ like the character would think.  The character Willow is incredible.  She isn’t understood by anybody and lives a mostly solitary life, but she still finds things that keep her happy.  Some aspects of her remind me so much of myself, like when she is thinking all of these funny thoughts that I can completely relate to: “I like the word gusto.  It should be used more in daily life.”  My friend Gabby and I want to adopt Willow as a sister.  The level of depth to this book is almost scary; it can get extremely philosophical in a very powerful way.  If you don’t like books with morals and life lessons, don’t worry.  Counting by 7s doesn’t aim to make you a perfect person.  This is a book that you must read, and soon!

Favorite Passage:  

Willow – When they find the place for you (and it will be a great place and it will be right for you, I know that) I want you to try and take Cheddar [a cat] with you.  I will call Lenore and say that the cat is a therapy dog.  Yours in friendship, ___ [spoilers].

He said the cat was a therapy dog.  I appreciate his support, but I sincerely hope that he’s not running this show.”


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