Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan: What’s With This Hype?

In the tradition of Out of My MindWonder, 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.

Description taken from Goodreads.

I’m sorry, but I don’t understand the appeal to this book. It’s always hard when you’re the black sheep review out of all the rave ones. I felt like this book was much longer than it needed to be and it was extremely quirky. I read it because of the hype around it, but this was one of those books where I just can’t understand where all this is coming from. Willow was cute at first, but then she became annoying and I started to lose focus on her voice as a character and just tried to get a grip on the story as a whole.

One thing about this story… It is nothing like MOCKINGBIRD, WONDER or OUT OF MY MIND. OUT OF MY MIND is one of my five star books, and the way it got there was mostly because of the character of Melody herself. You could feel her every emotion and thought like it was your own, and I wanted so badly to know her in real life. As for MOCKINGBIRD and WONDER, I never really loved them the way that everyone else did–but I could see the appeal behind them. Some parts to MOCKINGBIRD were genius. Kathryn Erskine completely captured the moment, making you feel like you were right there, watching Caitlin and her struggles. Her definitions and the way she wrote the story was unlike anything I’d ever read before at the time. WONDER was a new perspective on things for me. I saw August and I began to appreciate his story for the people Auggie is, if that makes sense, and just like after OOMM, I saw things in a different way.

But COUNTING BY 7s never gave me that feeling, any of those feelings. I hardly felt like I knew Willow at all. I understood what she was going through and at times, I appreciated her voice, but I felt like I was watching from the outside. This story just wasn’t for me. If you read this book and enjoyed it, even if you didn’t, then you should try at least one of those three books. 2 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 384


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