Parents' Guide to

Counting by 7s

By Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Striking tale of quirky girl connecting after parental loss.

Counting by 7s Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 9+

Funny as well as sad

Counting by 7s is very touching. It is a beautiful story that may have readers laughing and crying at the same time. It has some violence, such as a scene where the main character faints and cuts her head on a table, but a unique cast of characters and positive messages make a worthwhile read.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 14+

Beautiful, touching and original story!

The narrator is a genius and so she is quite intriguing. She is also relatable to high school students because she has trouble fitting in. It is refreshing that this story is NOT depressing, in fact is quite the oppositve- uplifting and motivating a true story of resilience. This story is not predictable. I just read it and I absolutely LOVED it (and I am a 36 year old English teacher with a Master's degree in English). I appreciate that there is no shocking or disturbing content included in the book (Willow's parents both die suddenly in a car crash and she is shaken and upset but there is no graphic description of it, for example).

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5):
Kids say (44):

This amazing novel offers an indelible, appealing outsider protagonist and a cast of quirky, good-hearted characters who intersect against a backdrop of a 12-year-old's unimaginable loss. Chapters are variously narrated either by Willow or an omniscient narrator. The ones in Willow's voice are filled with offbeat "field note" observations and dry humor, as well as stunning metaphors that capture the numbing experience of grief, such as "Life, I now realize, is just one big trek across a minefield and you never know which step is going to blow you up."

But Willow doesn't become bitter, and the novel is more heartwarming and uplifting than sad. Her teen friends' immigrant single mother, who's struggled to provide for her kids, kindly steps up to help Willow, and the girl appreciates how she maintains her even disposition no matter what life throws at her: "Maybe that's what happens when you've been through a lot," Willow reflects. "All of your edges are worn off, like sea glass. Either that or you shatter."

Book Details

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