Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (2013)


This sad and thoughtful book has enjoyed great popularity in the last few years.

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages: 380 (for ISBN 9780803738553)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, diverse, African-American protagonist

Tone/Style: precise, melancholy

Pace: leisurely

Topics: orphans, gifted students, surrogate families

Themes: grief and loss, being different, finding family, moving on

Summary: Counting By 7s is the story of Willow Chance, a twelve-year old girl who has been identified at an early age as ‘gifted’. Willow lives in Bakersfield, California and comes home from school one day to the news that her parents have been killed in a traffic accident.

What follows is Willow’s search to find a place where she belongs.

In equal parts an exploration of the pain of loss and of the triumph of moving forward, the novel looks at how one person can change the lives of many, often without even trying. (from Source)

Who will like this book?: There’s a big market, mostly among female readers, for books about quirky girls and tragic situations.

Who won’t like this book?: The leisurely pace and emphasis on emotional conflict

Other comments: Recently, this has been the most popular book in the “weird girls struck by tragedy” genre. (Yes, I’ve decided it’s a genre). 


Readalikes: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin is very similar in its treatment of a smart but misunderstood heroine dealing with grief.  Some other suggestions: One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, and Wonder by R.J. PalacioSee You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles is a great choice for readers looking to cry their eyes out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s