Title: Counting by 7s
Author: Molly Goldberg Sloan
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Content Alert: A clean read
Willow knows she’s not like everyone else in her junior high. She’s obsessed with germs and disease (both studying them and not contracting them). She counts by sevens to calm herself down. But she’s absolutely embraced and celebrated by her parents, who have never seen her differences as a liability. When they suddenly die in a car crash, and Willow doesn’t have a safety net of family to fall back on, she learns her own inner strength by pushing beyond her limitations to create the family she needs (from a highly disparate and unlikely group of people), and they all find themselves the better for it.
Counting by 7s is the story of an unusual kid who isn’t defined by a label. In fact, the counselor she’s assigned to help her adapt to life in junior high, who has a labeling system for all of his students, seems at a loss to label Willow. I love that about this novel. I have a kid who people have tried to label for most of his life. Some of those labels didn’t fit right, some we had to resist using as a crutch, and others he downright refused to accept. In Counting by 7s, the label itself isn’t important, Willow as a person, a person with unique talents, is what is important. As the people around her come to know her in this time of great crisis, they learn to celebrate the aspects of her personality that some might be quick to point out fall outside of two standard deviations on a normal bell curve.