Gift this to yourself AND a friend


Willow Chance (12) is a highly gifted girl who likes counting by 7’s, gardening, and medicine. She lives with her adoptive parents Jimmy and Roberta. Willow trusts and connects with her parents, despite her abnormal and unique personality.

When a teacher at Sequoia Middle School accuses Willow of cheating on a test, she must meet with Dell Duke, a school counselor. Willow completed the test perfectly, by herself, without cheating. During sessions with Dell, she meets Mai and Quang-ha Nguyen, two Vietnamese high school students. Excited to spend time with her new friends, she starts taking a taxi, so she can arrive earlier at Dell's office. In the process, she becomes friendly with Jairo Hernandez, the cabdriver.In interacting with these new people, Willow inspired them and helps them to self-reflect.

Willow, who had a hard tie connecting with others, is finally able to do so. When her adoptive parents die in a car crash, her content life is turned upside down. She has no relatives and no home. Her new friends help her in return! Dell, Jairo, and the Nguyen family  all come together to help Willow to find a home and heal emotionally.

BTSYA / Teen Reader (16):
I love this book and would suggest it as a gift! It is very heartwarming and will touch your heart. There are many meaningful messages that illustrate the importance of relationships. The story shows us how people can influence and help each other in times of hardship. Willow reminds us that being considered “abnormal” is not something to be ashamed of, it is something to embrace.

Counting by 7s is very well written and has hopeful tones to emphasize the messages don't give up and strive for your dreams. The word choice and mood are also excellent, as it perfectly communicates feelings of happiness, grief, heartbreak, and humor.

The combination of the main character being in middle school and the vocabulary suitable to that age group make this an excellent choice for this audience. They will be able to relate and understand Willow's experiences more effectively. However, because of the beautiful messages and themes in this book, it can - and should - be recommended to all ages. No matter what your age, you can learn from this heartwarming novel. For those dealing with a lack of motivation, grief, heartbreak or the fear of being different, this is an especially powerful story.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Willow Chance is both different and universal. Readers will be touched by the messages - and encouragement - Willow's story offers.

Content Awareness Factors:

None noted.

Type of Book:
This is a realistic middle grade novel, narrated by the main character.
Educational Themes:

The heart of the story is relationships - how we make them, how we navigate them, and where they might come from. Just as Willow taught the other characters to self reflect, readers can learn to do the same: if they met someone like Willow on the street today (having read the book), how would they react?

The relationships in the story are "alive." Due to events or circumstances, people and feelings change. Opportunities to talk about loss, trust, compassion, communication, and empathy are easily drawn from Willow's narration.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
11 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
10 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 16
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy. You will want to reconnect with Willow and gain hope from her story. Plus you'll want to share this book with a friend.

Title Counting By 7s
Author Holly Goldberg Sloan
Publisher Puffin Books, a Penguin Random House Company © 2014 (Reprint Edition)
ISBN 9780142422861
Material Paperback
Cost $8.99
Genres Family, School, Social Issues
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