There are books you anticipate just because the cover is amazing. There are books that you anticipate just because the story sounds so new. And then there are books that you anticipate because everyone around you who was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of it cannot stop talking about how incredible it was. Counting by 7s falls in the later category for me and I have waited all summer for it, since I pre-ordered it in June. And yet, when the box came on Monday, I didn’t know if I could crack it open. Sometimes when books get so much hype, there is no way they can live up to it. Sometimes when you are so excited to read a book, you have this sinking feeling that they will not be something you love, that your time will be wasted, that your money should have been saved. But I took a breath and read the first page.
Then I cooked dinner while reading, gave bath to the kids while reading, tucked them in and made daddy read a book for them so that I could read. I ignored the season finale of our show. I ignored Brandon’s conversation. And I finished this glorious story 3 hours after I started it. Sometimes books grab you and then we you go to explain to others why they have such a hold of you, you don’t quite have the words.
Sloan’s storytelling, the way the characters are alive, the way you cry with their story, the way you hope and despair along with them is a talent not many writers possess. I immediately thought of several former 5th graders who have to read this book. I immediately thought of the 3 colleagues I had to tell about this book. I immediately wanted to read it again. Now I wonder if it should be a read aloud or better left savored by yourself, in a night, or two.
Whatever the answer, I cannot wait until one of my new students read it just so we can discuss how amazing it it.
Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.
Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.