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Estelle: Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg SloanCounting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: August 29, 2013
Publisher: Dial
Pages: 384
Target audience: Middle grade
Keywords: tragedy, family, adoption, young geniuses
Format read: ARC from TLA. (Thanks!)
Other book reviewed by author: I’ll Be There

Summary: When her adoptive parents die in a car accident, Willow shuts down. The uber smart girl who loves to spend time in her garden no longer exists. Instead, Willow is quiet as her new companions help her to work through this tragedy.

I love Holly Goldberg Sloan’s writing because it instantly transports me back to my younger self and all the reasons I loved books in the first place.

Her themes revolve around unconventional families, tragedy, fate, and how the smallest act of kindness can utterly change someone’s life.

With her succinct writing style, Sloan has written a beautiful book about young Willow, probably the smartest protagonist I have ever encountered, who must deal with the shocking deaths of her parents. She was adopted by them, and now she is surprisingly “adopted” by high schooler Mai, her mom, her brother, and (kind sorta) her school counselor. This group of people couldn’t form a more eclectic family, and together they learn how to evolve individually as they help Willow to grieve and move forward.

At first sight, Willow is a little hard to get a handle on. She knows even the smallest details about the plants in her garden, she can learn to speak Vietnamese in record time, and she’s sort of walks around like she’s a little 50-year old with super complex brain functions. This little lady, even when brought down by absence of her parents, has no idea the effect she has on the people she comes across, and I loved watching that happen. Slowly and meaningfully, I knew Sloan would connect the dots in a way that would make me nod my head and think “all is right in this world.”

For all the serious situations surround the main plot, I promise there are some sweet, funny, and wonderful moments to counterbalance the flow.

Counting by 7s felt like a poetic masterpiece as I got swept into Willow’s story and this cast of colorful and complex characters. (I love that the adults are facing their own demons too.) It really is a team effort to make these people feel whole again, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. My only warning? Have tissues on hand.

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August 28, 2013 - 8:12 pm

Bookworm1858 - I think this sounds exactly like the kind of book I love-with all the threads tying together at the end for a heartwarming story. I look forward to giving it a try!

August 28, 2013 - 4:11 pm

Lauren @ Love is not a triangle - I haven’t seen any reviews of this one, though I have a copy from BEA, so I’m really excited to read your thoughts. Love stories about odd characters. This girl sounds endearing and I can’t wait to meet her. I also love that she’s ‘adopted’ by people in her life that step up to care about her. And most of all, when you said this book “felt like a poetic masterpiece” I was sold! Thanks for this review!!

August 28, 2013 - 12:01 pm

Alexa Y. - I loved this one too! Willow is such a quirky main character, and I think Sloan pulls that off perfectly. She’s actually a character I found relatable, in spite of being very different from me. I think the story was also incredible, especially with how everything falls into place at the end. So good!

August 27, 2013 - 8:44 am

Jamie - So glad to see a favorable review from you because I was super excited for this one but have seen a few unfavorable reviews for it..something about the ending?

I loved I’ll Be There so I’m excited to jump back into her writing because it’s always so beautiful and vivid. I’ve been putting it off since seeing these reviews (does that ever happen to you? Put a book lower on the TBR bc of bad reviews?) but now I’m moving it back up!

August 27, 2013 - 6:02 am

VeganYANerds - So, so glad you liked this! I haven’t read Holly’s previous book (though I own it) and have heard so much about what an excellent author she is 🙂 Also, I love this cover!

August 26, 2013 - 11:34 pm

Jen - Eeep, I’m so excited to get my hands on this one! I love the sound of the plot for this one, and Willow seems like a really smart girl that I’d like. The character relationships in the story look like they are strong and special among each one. And tissues on hand? Shoot, girlie! Fabulous review, Estelle!

August 26, 2013 - 10:58 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - Oh awesome! I have this one from BEA but haven’t read it yet. I’m glad to see such a good review from you! I always get scared with the books that look really good but I don’t really know much about. I definitely trust your reviews! 🙂

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