Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg-Sloan

This week’s tween review is on a book that fell outside of the usual confines for me. Instead of looking at adventure or mystery, I chose to review a book that related to issues that were more current. This title addresses the topic of grief and loss, and how it affects young people today. Be prepared to read through the night!!

Counting by 7s tween book blue fish swimming up one red fish opposite direction
An engaging tween read

Title: Counting by 7’s

Author: Holly Goldberg-Sloan

Genre: Fiction – contemporary

Publication details: Dial Books for Young Readers; NY, 2013

ISBN: 9780803738553

What the book is aboutTwelve-year-old Willow Chance is a genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7’s. She hasn’t had much luck connecting with anyone other than her adoptive parents. Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents are killed in a car crash, leaving her alone in this world. Willow must now figure out a way to connect with other people and find a surrogate family for herself.

My reviewThis is such a different story to those I usually read. Although Willow finds a home in the most unconventional sense, it’s the unique writing that gives this story a depth to it. This is not your ordinary adoption tale either, but a gorgeous, funny, and heartwarming novel that you will find hard to forget. In her unique voice, Holly Goldberg-Sloan has written this delightful story of transformation that’s a celebration of life with her distinct and colorful characters. I won’t be giving away any spoilers, it’s up to you to read this and find out why so many found this an awesome read. I will tell you this though: Counting by 7’s will have you crying and laughing at the same time!! I would also recommend this for older readers thought, at least 10 plus.

My rating: 5 ⭐

This lovely book has also gained a lot of recognition from some prestigious agencies. Below you will find the accolades and awards it has won.

ALA Notable Children’s Book Award, Hampshire Book Award, BCCB Blue Ribbon Book, CSMCL Best Multicultural Book, YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, IRA Teacher’s Choice Reading List, NCTE/CLA Notable Children’s Book in the Arts. There are more that this title received nominations for and since they are far too numerous I won’t be listing them here.

Despite the serious issues tackled in this book, I gained a thirst for similar reads and I am still looking for books that continue to challenge my thinking and expand my world view. These few titles listed below speak of similar themes and I found exceptionally enjoyable.

rain reign girl running behind dog dark rain clouds

Rain reign by Ann M. Martin – A compelling story about a young girl with Asperger’s and an obsession with homonyms.

Out of my mind goldfish jumps out of bowl





Out of my mind by Sharon M. Draper – Award-winning author Sharon M. Draper takes us into the mind of an incredibly brave young girl who will change the way you look at anyone with a disability.

the thing about jellyfish Girl on hill holding onto jellyfish by tentacles





The thing about jellyfish by Ali Benjamin – A stunning debut novel on grief and how one young girl deals with a significant loss in her life.

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