COUNTING BY 7’s

by Ann Jacobus on September 17, 2013

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In Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (2013 Dial), main character twelve year-old Willow Chance is a genius and she herself admits that she is strange.  “But I know it and that takes the edge off. At least for me.” She’s also a young woman of color adopted and beloved by parents so white, “they are almost blue.” She counts by sevens to reduce anxiety, and is obsessed by botany, growing things, and medical conditions. She’s only ever had one friend, who moved away after fifth grade. Willow tells much of the story in her own drole manner, and those who become her temporary guardians after an accident claims both Willow’s parents, offer other points of view. Nguyen siblings, 14 year-old Mai and 15 year-old Quang-ha, and their mother, Pattie, come to Willow’s aid through a serendipitous string of events.  They are joined by a sad-sack school counselor named Dell Duke, and taxi driver Jairo Hernandez. They all live in Bakersfield, California and together make up a resourceful, highly entertaining and heartwarming family of sorts who triumph over the odds, the system, and all manner of adversity to be together.

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