Counting By Sevens

By: Holly Goldberg Sloan. Suspense and Drama

About the Author

Holly Goldberg Sloan was born in the US and grew up in California. Over her writing years, she has written and directed a number of feature family films. She now has two sons and continues to live in California. Other books she has written include: I'll be there, Just Call my Name, and Keeper.

Book Review

"Two small birds find their way down to the honeysuckle planted next to the bamboo. They speak to me, not in words, but in action. They tell me that life goes on." - Counting by Sevens.

It all starts with Willow Chance. The Genius from Bakersfield is starting her first year at the very unsanitary, Sequoia Middle School. In elementary school Willow was bullied, so she hopes that middle school will be a new start for her. As she walks up the stinky steps, she doesn't realize that she will walk down those steps before the end of the day. She ends up leaving the loud, mad house early, and goes to think in her garden. Willow's garden is bright and full of colour, and rests behind her yellow house. She considers it thick and full of life. She sits back there and cries. She promises herself that she will slack off in school, and won't exactly care what mark she gets. A few weeks go by, and she has to take a test in math class. For once, she decides to show how smart she is. This huge test is finished by Willow Chance in less than 17 minutes. The principal is convinced she has cheated, and sends her to counselling. At her first counselling meeting, the protagonist (Willow) meets a developing character. It is her counsellor, Dell Duke. His office is small and windowless and incredibly unorganized. It is just plain nasty. The students that come in for counselling next, are trouble-maker Quang-Ha and his sister, Mai. Although they are in high-school, Willow becomes quick friends with them. That night when Willow walks home, there are police at her driveway. Her parents had died. Mai (who walked her home) thought quickly and arranged that Willow would stay with them until the social workers had found a suitable home for her. Mai and Quang-Ha live with their Mom Pattie in a garage that was across the alley from Pattie's Nail Salon business. It has no toilet and they all sleep on the floor. When the social workers come to check and see if Pattie's house is appropriate for short-term living with Willow, Pattie moves into Dell Dukes apartment, and forces him out. Willow plants a garden in the apartment, which shows signs of her moving past the tragedy. Whose home will Willow end up in? Will she have to end up migrating like the birds in her garden? Or will she stay put like her bamboo. The conclusion in Counting by Sevens is sweet and includes some shocking twists.

I would defiantly recommend Counting by Sevens to you. It has a common yet well described setting, and has a very memorable protagonist. Though it has breath-taking suspense, there are a few slow spots that drag on. The theme can be hard to understand, due to the fact that there could be a variety of them, but I defiantly give this book two thumbs up! If I were counting by sevens, this book would be a 7/7.

I love the book Counting by Sevens. There is a perfect balance between action, romance, suspense, and symbolism. You will remember these characters for a long time after you finish the book. I am confident that if you give this book a try, you won't be sorry.

Main Characters

Moments of Impact

The Garden.

In the moments that Willow is in a garden, her real personality traits show and it is beautiful how the author describes it. I love how she just lets her bars down and is herself. While reading the book I look forward to these moments. My favourite time when she was in a garden, was when she sat at the Gardens of Glenwood. She had just finished the garden and was sitting watching the nature. I felt like I was being soothed by the birds she was describing.

The Friendship.

Quang-Ha is a very mysterious character in Counting by Sevens. At first, he doesn't accept Willow. Soon though, he and Willow grow closer because they have things in common, like they both love doing art and they both have dreams of a better future. When these moments in the book occur, I feel happiness in knowing that they are drawing closer. These are sweet moments in Counting by Sevens that you must search for to find.

A Passage.

My favourite quote from the book Counting by Sevens, was this: "I go straight to my favourite are, which is upstairs next to a window. The light floods this spot. I get a book on astrophysics. I haven't thought of the big picture concepts in a long time. Maybe I've been to focused on the smaller things. I've had my mind wrapped around specific. Reading about galaxies and cosmic microwaves helps me to breathe more easily. I'm putting my place in the universe into perspective. I'm stardust. I'm golden brown. I'm just one small bit in a vast expanse."

The Pitch

Have you ever found the perfect book? Where every sentence has subtle suspense yet reveals another clue to the conclusion? How it is written so beautifully you feel like you were there? Where it flows so smoothly that you just can't put it down? These are some things that make a book great. To me, to have a great book, it must have suspense and action. I have to feel my heart beating in my chest. Also, it must have emotion. I want to feel connected to it, I want to cry and laugh and be shocked. A great book must include a well described protagonist that has what it believes in, tied into the plot. The book must include clear imagery to describe a specific setting, and I love books that have significant symbolism.

This is what Counting by Sevens includes. The introduction hooks you in right away and opens into a world of amazing imagery, strong characters, and a suspenseful rising action. The symbolism in the book is incredible, for instance Holly Goldberg Sloan describes Willow as "a sunflower, temporary." This is a great novel because the characters are strong and relatable. I could relate to the protagonist (Willow Chance) because she had lost a family member, as did I, and is trying to overcome it as well. The author writes so smoothly it almost feels like a poem. The emotion of Counting by Sevens will crash over you like a wave, shocking. Though Willow is a developing character, she stays true to who she is. An example is she always promised herself that she would keep trying to fit in and be better than she was yesterday. That is why Counting by Sevens is a great novel.

I am confident, that if you take time to read this page-turning book, you will love the sophistication and emotion that comes with Willow Chance. Holly Goldberg Sloan has written a must read.


Person vs Self - Willow vs Self

Willow is very insecure and doesn't know how to deal with her emotions after the loss of her parents. "She is torn with feeling everything, and feeling nothing."

Person vs Person - Willow vs counsellors

Since Willow lost both her parents, she is now considered an orphan. The social workers are going to take her to a new family, but Willow wants to stay with the Nguyens. (Pattie, Mai, and Quang-Ha)
Big image


Learn to Find Yourself.

There are so many different meanings and lessons that you could take from Counting by Sevens, but one that really stands out to me, was learning to find yourself. Willow Chance, though she went through tragedy and joy, ended up knowing who she was by the end of the book. She was strong and confident and happy. If you know who you are, you can conquer much more.

Counting by Sevens book trailer.

Counting by 7s