Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

counting by 7s

That’s the thing about time. A second can feel like forever if what follows is heartbreak.”
~Willow Chance (character), from Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan, pp. 350-351.

Though this book is written for children (approx grades 6 thru 9) and the voice is young, it is the voice of experience and the voice of genius. Willow Chance functions by information and logic, yet learns to bend and act outside that guiding structure. She meets people and touches their lives, just as they touch hers. The story is peopled by unique, quirky, and sympathetic characters. We experience them through Willow’s eyes and through their words and actions. The ultimate message of this book is that people are survivors, and that people need other people. It was charming and humorous, poignant and profound.

Here are a few more words from Willow.

“I know that I will think about this day many times.
Then I realize that it is the 7th day of the month. And I’m not surprised.
7 is a natural number.
And it is a prime number.
There are 7 basic types of catastrophes.
And 7 days of the week.
Isaac Newton identified 7 colors of the rainbow as:
Violet
Indigo
Blue
Green
Yellow
Orange
Red
Dell put people in 7 categories:
Misfit
Oddball
Lone Wolf
Weirdo
Genius
Dictator
Mutant
I have my own system of order.
I think that at every stage of living there are 7 people who matter in your world.
They are the people who are inside you.
They are people you rely on.They are people who daily change your life.
For me I count:

(spoiler avoided here)

I decide that when my head begins to pound from now on. I will shut my eyes and count to 7, instead of by 7s.
I see each one of these people like the colors of the rainbow.
They are vivid and distinct.
And they hold a permanent place in my heart.
…I return to the stairs, and as I sit here in a slice of winter sunlight, 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.”

(pp. 376-378)

Sloan, H. (2013). Counting by 7s. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.