You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love Counting by 7s. I am rooting for it to win the Newbery next Monday. Not only is it a fabulous middle-grade book, it’s also the first book I’ve read since The Book Thief that I can see having serious adult appeal. If you’ve never read middle grade, it is still for you. Just pretend it is a really short book for grownups. (Maria Semple blurbed it. Isn’t that enough for you? It should be.)
It’s deceptively simple, a portal to the simple and precocious voice of Willow Chance, a 12-year-old genius who writes only one-sentence paragraphs and obsesses over plants and diseases and trying to understand middle school. Something truly horrible happens to her and, far too young, she finds herself alone, restarting her life. It’s a tearjerker for sure and pure of heart in the way that only a 12-year-old nerd can be. Whatever you think this book is when you start it, it will turn out to be much more.