The fourth of five selections for our summer 2017 study of Young Adult books, Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan is the story of Willow, a 12-year-old girl who loses both parents in a tragic accident and ends up finding a new family in unexpected places.
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Here is my video reflection, followed by a few notes:
- Counting by 7s is just a really good read, a character-driven book that also happens to have a compelling plot line. While I do think it would serve as a perfectly solid subject for a study on character development, Freytag’s pyramid, textual evidence of all stripes, and narrative writing, I also think it is one of those books that people just love to read, period.
- I adore Willow as a character. The way she processes things—especially human emotions, including her own—reminds me of Star Trek‘s Data or a softer version of Silicon Valley‘s Laurie Bream. Her ability to distance herself slightly from emotionally difficult situations might really resonate with some readers, and for others it might provide a different way of handling situations that might otherwise knock them off their feet. I also liked the fact that despite her slightly unemotional way of looking at the world, she also had lots of incredibly vulnerable moments and was able to connect with every other character quite deeply.
- This is another book with a lot of strong female characters. If you happen to be building a library or collection of books with strong female characters, this one would definitely have a place there. Willow, Pattie, and Mai all take decisive action throughout the book, moves that really develop the plot and powerfully influence the lives of those around them.
- I found it curious that the author chose not to spend much time exploring the characters of Willow’s parents, or delve into her history with them. They are introduced almost as a necessity to explain “what happened,” and Willow occasionally refers to them, but with her sharp observational and analytical skills, I find it hard to believe she wouldn’t think more about them over the course of this book. I get that the story isn’t really about the past, but about Willow’s present and possible future with the book’s major characters, but having no one even really bring them up at all seems unrealistic.
What did you think about the book? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.