7 Things I Love About “Counting By 7’s”

September 23rd, 2013 by melissa g

What do I love about Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan?
I can think of 7 things, actually. Seems appropriate, right?

1. The cover: It’s simple, meaningful, and the red definitely stands out. Although, what is it about children’s fiction and fish on the cover? Remember Rules by Cynthia Lord and Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper? And, of course, Dr. Seuss!

2. Willow’s voice: Her first-person perspective on herself and her surroundings is fresh, honest, thoughtful, and endearing. She has the rare ability to make you smile at the most unexpected things, in the most unexpected moments. Here are some examples of how Willow thinks:

“We are all imperfect genetic stews.”
“…endings are always the beginnings of something else.”
“The ability to keep your mouth shut is usually a sign of intelligence.”
“Plants (like people) thrive when there is balance”

3. The juxtaposition of bad and good fortune: What happens to Willow (her parents die in a car accident) is very real and extremely traumatic. But it is reality. When I told a friend about the book, she said that a similar thing happened to a girl in her town when she was growing up. Against this backdrop of tragedy, however, Willow finds the good in people.  Actually, it’s Willow who seems to bring it out in them, this small sliver of promise despite all they are up against.

4. The Forest Gump like magic: While there’s no real magic here, there are some aspects of the story that do require the reader to suspend disbelief, just like in Forest Gump. They may seem far-fetched, but those moments or happenings help to give balance to the story.

5. The messages: Respect one another’s differences. Don’t judge others. Each person you encounter can bring something positive into your life, and you can do the same for them. It’s possible to be isolated when you feel connected and connected when you feel isolated. Sometimes you need to “Swim against the tide.”

6. The cast of characters: They’re flawed, eccentric, and sometimes downright despicable. I mean, what kind of school counselor classifies kids as “misfits”, “oddballs” and “strange”? Hmmm…on second thought, I bet there are a few just like that out there. In fact, I’ve heard stories about a couple who could give Dell a run for his money! So what’s the beauty of these characters? They’re authentic. And, it’s fascinating to watch as the author peels back the layers to reveal more about them. There’s a big mess to get through, but there’s more to Dell than his little system. There’s more to Pattie, Quang-ha, Mai and Jairo too, but none of them realize their potential until they connect with Willow, and really with each other.

7. The language: It’s detailed without being too descriptive. Each sentence feels purposeful and meaningful. Each word is like a unique flower in a carefully planned garden, void of weeds and overgrowth. Need I say more?

Willow says, “At every stage of living, there are 7 people who matter in your world.” Who are your 7?

To see our full review of Counting By 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan, click over to Sweet on Books.

Posted in Random Book Thoughts, Reviews

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