Friday, August 16, 2013
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
This was a very interesting book. The tragedy that leaves Willows parent's dead happens early on in the book, and we know it's coming from the very first page. The story wasn't really about the tragedy, however. What this book was really about was how people touch other people's lives in unknown and surprising ways, and that they small things that people do can have a great impact on other people.
Although it never specifically says, Willow seems to be on the autism spectrum. She has difficulty communicating, she doesn't connect with people, and she has certain fixations, like nature and medical conditions and the number 7.
It was all about connections. Willow has been accused of cheating in school, because she got a perfect score on a test. She is sent to talk to a counselor. The counselor, Dell, who is completely inept and has no idea how to be a counselor but has been getting by. He and Willow are similar in a lot of way. They have fixations. They are not good with communicating with other people. They don't have friends. Dell becomes fascinated with Willow, and when her parent's die, is pulled into her life.
Willow meets a girl, Mai, whose brother, Quang-ha, is also seeing Dell. Mai brings Willow home with her to her mother, Pattie, and convinces Pattie to take in Willow temporarily. Pattie, Mai, and Quang-ha live in a garage behind the nail salon Pattie runs.
The final character pulled into Willow's life is Jairo, a taxi driver, who gives Willow a ride one day and Willow gives him some of her usual blunt advice, and it changes his life forever.
All these lives become intertwined, and changes begin to happen, things that wouldn't have happened if Willow hadn't lost her parents. I guess it could seem trite in a lot of ways. "Look at all the good that can come out of tragedy!" But it didn't come across like that at all. It just showed how one thing can happen, and because of that one thing, hundreds of other things can happen as well, like a chain reaction.
The story switches perspective, focusing in on the different characters, so we have an opportunity to see how each of them is transforming in their own way.
One thing that really bothered me - Pattie actually had a hidden stash of money? And she was making her kids live in an unheated garage? Yikes.
An interesting and thoughtful read.
Counting by 7s comes out August 29, 2013.