Synopses & Reviews
In the tradition of Out of My Mind
this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family.
Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn't kept her from leading a quietly happy life... until now.
Suddenly Willow's world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.
"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 10up. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“A graceful, meaningful tale featuring a cast of charming, well-rounded characters who learn sweet — but never cloying — lessons about resourcefulness, community, and true resilience in the face of loss.” Booklist (starred review)
“Bright and heartfelt […] an uplifting story.” Kirkus Reviews
“What sets this novel apart from the average orphan-finds-a-home book is its lack of sentimentality, its truly multicultural cast (Willow describes herself as a “person of color”; Mai and Quang-ha are of mixed Vietnamese, African American, and Mexican ancestry), and its tone....Poignant.” The Horn Book (starred review)
Holly Goldberg Sloan writes about belonging in a way I've never quite seen in any other book. This is a gorgeous, funny, and heartwarming novel that I'll never forget.” John Corey Whaley, author of Where Things Come Back
"Willow Chance subtly drew me into her head and her life, so much so that I was holding my breath for her by the end. Holly Goldberg Sloan has created distinct characters who will stay with you long after you finish the book." Sharon Creech, Newbery Award-winning author of Walk Two Moons
"In achingly beautiful prose, Holly Goldberg Sloan has written a delightful tale of transformation that's a celebration of life in all its wondrous, hilarious and confounding glory. Counting by 7s is a triumph." Maria Semple, author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette
About the Author
Holly Goldberg Sloan, the acclaimed author of I'll Be There, has worked as an advertising copywriter and a writer and director of feature films. She lives in Santa Monica, California.