Counting by 7s

Holly Goldberg Sloan, Author
Holly Goldberg Sloan. Dial, $16.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3855-3
Reviewed on: 07/08/2013
Release date: 08/29/2013
Paperback - 378 pages - 978-0-14-242286-1
Prebound-Sewn - 400 pages - 978-0-606-36583-3
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-62406-902-4
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Willow Chance is an extremely precocious and analytical 12-year-old “genius,” and she doesn’t fit in with other kids (though she’d doubtlessly find a kindred spirit in Lauren Tarshis’s Emma-Jean Lazarus). Despite Willow’s social difficulties, she makes an impression on everyone around her—whether it’s Dell Duke, a lonely and ineffectual school district counselor, or Jairo Hernandez, the taxi driver Willow hires to drive her to her meetings with Dell. After Willow’s parents die in a car crash, her new friend Mai Nguyen persuades her mother to take Willow in; despite the Nguyens’ poverty, their makeshift home and open arms help bring Willow back from the void. As in Sloan’s I’ll Be There, the narration shifts among multiple viewpoints, from Willow’s cerebral first-person perspective to third-person chapters that demonstrate how her presence is transformational to those around her, young and old. But while elements of Willow’s story are indeed extraordinary and even inspirational, Sloan’s somewhat portentous storytelling gets in the way of letting readers reach their own conclusions about the ways people save each other. Ages 10–up. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (Aug.)
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