Review: Counting by 7s by Holly Goldburg Sloan
I found a copy of Counting by 7s at the Dymocks book shop in Rundle Mall, and from the moment that I picked up this supposedly middle grade novel, it started to warm my heart. (I say supposedly, because the writing style and subject matter mean that this book would undoubtably appeal to a much broader--ie adult--audience.) The novel tells the story of Willow Chance, a twelve year old genius who marches proudly to her own beat. A deep thinker, Willow finds comfort in counting by sevens (hence the title,) but does not do well in school and has a lot of trouble relating to the kids at her school. Her adoptive parents accept and understand her quirks, but when she starts middle school, trouble begins. Despite a poor academic record, she aces a test and is soon accused of cheating and finds herself sent to see a barely competent guidance counsellor. Her path--an unpleasant one--seems to be set, until she makes friends with a couple of older kids who have to see the same counsellor. Mai and Quang-ha accept Willow's oddities. However, it's when Willow's parents pass away unexpectedly, and the others (along with Mai and Quang-ha's Mum Pattie,) conspire to keep her out of a system that would only fail this delicate kid, that a quirky, unlikely adventure begins, with Willow inevitably transforming the lives of everyone who has helped her for the better.
I loved everything about this book and read it over the space of about two days, despite the fact that I was a little bit pushed for time to read. Willow's unique perspective made for an interesting way to view the world, and I was surprised by how easily I was able to relate to her--if anything, I think I felt like her at times when I was twelve, able to understand adult concepts, yet completely unable to understand kids my own age. Some parts are a bit schmultzy, but given that the target audience are twelve year olds, it also seems entirely appropriate.