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Friday, June 6, 2014

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Book Review: Counting by 7s

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan was my first true foray into middle grade novels. (Middle grade is for the 12-14 year old reader demographic)

The premise seemed very interesting and it was receiving rave reviews, so I thought I'd be safe and not read a book that would ruin the whole genre for me. And turns out, I read a book that opened the whole genre for me. I need to read more books like Counting by 7s!

This unforgettable book transcends that 12-14 year old age bracket, and should be read by all ages. It is a tale of loss, grief, friendship, perseverance, and triumph that grabs on to your heart and doesn't let go.

The story is about Willow Chance. A near genius 12 year old who embraces life and knowledge until a tragic accident takes her adoptive parents from her. Orphaned twice before becoming a teenager, Willow is left in a world that doesn't understand her, and despite her high IQ, she doesn't quite understand it.

Before her parents' deaths, she befriends Mai, the sister of Quang-ha, a quiet and angry boy who, like Willow, has been forced into counseling sessions with Dell Duke. Dell is an over-weight, insecure, and under-qualified school counselor who can't help any child let alone himself. But he unknowingly brings these mis-fit kids together right before the turning point in all of their lives. It's Dell who drops Willow off at her home where the police are waiting to tell her the terrible news. It's Mai in the car with them who demands Willow come home with them. And it's her mother, Pattie, who takes her in with open arms and lots and lots of food. But it's all of them, including Dell Duke, that grow and learn and become better all because of a little genius girl who lost her parents, but found a family.

This book, was incredible. I found myself laughing, hurting, and loving along with all of the characters. They were all so well developed, you felt for all of them, but none as much as Willow. Willow's character was a joy to read. She's incredibly smart and perceptive, but also only 12 and orphaned, again. It was very refreshing to read such interesting character. I also found it very refreshing to read a book with such diverse characters.

Willow describes herself as a person of color, Pattie is Vietnamese and black American, and her children are half Hispanic. It's not often you get even one token non-white character. And I say "token" because that's frequently what it feels like; it's just a token character for the minority reader. But this didn't feel like that at all. This isn't that at all. This is a beautiful story about people who don't all happen to be white. And that's good.

But diversity aside, this book really is wonderful. I constantly thought throughout my reading, "Why is this called a kids book?!" It is a book for all ages. Just because the main character is 12 doesn't mean she can't teach you a lot about being an adult.

Title: Counting by 7s

Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan

Genre: Middle-grade, Contemporary Drama

Recommendation: Yes

Best Reader Audience: Young Male and Female Readers, Adult Female Readers

Final Rating: Four out of Five mugs of hot chocolate 
Want to become a part of this wonderful and diverse family? Use the link below and your purchase will help support the Lone Book Club!

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