Counting by 7s
By Holly Goldberg Sloan
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2013. 380 pages. Fiction.
Willow Chance is a very interesting preteen girl. She is exceptionally intelligent, though lacking in social graces. She has an aptitude for botany, and finishes school assignments and tests in record time. At the start of middle school, she finds her life beginning a new (and very confusing) chapter as she tries to navigate this environment filled with hoards of older kids. Then, her adoptive parents die in a tragic car accident. With no friends or family to lean on, Willow finds herself completely devastated and floundering. With the help of a slacker guidance counselor and new-found friends the Nguyen family, Willow begins to put her life back together. This new family unit keeps her afloat and keeps her from falling through the cracks.
Much like last year's hit Wonder, Counting by 7s is an enriching novel that shares the honest point of view of a child with extraordinary abilities. But, at nearly 400 pages, there's a lot to take in. It probably could have been whittled down some. Sloan uses different characters' perspectives here and there, which I found distracting because Willow's witty one-liners and smart observations shine on their own.