Counting by 7s is a delightfully quirky novel featuring the intriguing character of 12 year old Willow Chance.
Author Sloan doesn't pull any punches.
Tragedy strikes in the opening chapter when Willow learns her adoptive parents have been killed in a car crash. Sloan skilfully controls the narrative here as a group of adults bumble their way through breaking the news, setting the tone for her ability to guide the reader through the quirky oddballs that inhabit her pages.
Willow is an endearing character with a number of unique traits. With an obsession for counting by 7s, she is a genius who absorbs information with a particular penchant for medicine and botany. A child who is more than comfortable in her own company she doesn't often relate to others. She also exhibits a very refreshing black and white view of the world which Sloan conveys brilliantly.
'I've never understood colouring books.
Either draw a picture, or don't. But why waste your time colouring in someone else's work?'
Sloan's ability to capture the quirks of a wide variety of oddball characters makes Counting by 7s a compelling and absorbing read.
The first one to appear is Dell Duke - Willow's counsellor. He's a hapless character thanks to his lack of professionalism, direction and passion. He was there when the police broke the news to Willow ... now he has to deal with this situation in order to cover his earlier carelessness. He becomes an unwilling, crucial part of the subsequent months, and in turn makes his own journey.
As Willow is absorbed into the the Nguyen family she begins to uncurl and grow. She learns to connect, to trust and to forge links, meaningful links, with those around her.
Sloan carefully intermingles first person narration with third. Willow's inner most thoughts dominate the novel allowing us insight into this child's mind. The juxtaposition of the third person opens up the world of those around her, the ones who are trying to connect yet are equally flawed in one way or another. Sloan's technique provides the novel with a satisfying level of depth for this age group
Counting by 7s is about a young girl's emotional growth against all the odds. It's about a series of misfits, of slightly oddball characters who all contain redeeming, worthwhile qualities which they learn to trust and use with confidence.
It's about connecting, it's about hope and it's a darn good read.
'just being there is ninety-nine per cent of what matters when your world falls apart.'
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