Counting by 7s - Chapters 13 - 16 Summary & Analysis

Holly Goldberg Sloan
This Study Guide consists of approximately 71 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Counting by 7s.
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In Chapter 13, Jairo picked up a pamphlet about continuing education from Bakersfield College during his break. He believed Willow’s statement was a sign it was time to pursue his education as a medical technician. Meanwhile, Dell wondered how he could use Willow to improve his situation.

In Chapter 14, Willow requested Jairo’s taxi for a second time. This time, he had cut his hair and Willow noticed a mole on his neck. During her ride, she wrote a message to him advising him to have the mole biopsied. Willow and Mai spent their afternoon talking in Vietnamese and looking for Cheddar. Willow gave her information about botany, then told Mai she was her new best friend. When Mai was silent, Willow knew she had crossed a line. Willow added that Mai was really her only friend since she was in a new school, Mai smiled.

In Chapter 15, Roberta Chance was sent to an imaging center for a dimple she’d noticed in her breast. She realized something was wrong when the doctor asked her to come back to his office after the ultrasound. The doctor told her the dent was a tumor and that she needed to call her husband. The doctor told them the surgery to remove the tumor needed to be done immediately.

Jimmy and Roberta sat on a bench to talk and decided they would not tell Willow what had happened. They drove Jimmy’s truck to her next appointment. Jimmy slowed the truck on Eye Street because the light was red but it changed to green before he’d completely stopped. He didn’t look to see if another car was coming into the intersection as he would generally have but instead reached and touched Roberta’s arm. It was at this instant that their vehicle was t-boned by a medical supply van. Jimmy died on the scene. Roberta died three hours later during emergency surgery. The van driver was left in a coma.

In Chapter 16, Mai told Dell that she, Willow and Quang-ha wanted to go for ice cream. The kids worked together to manipulate Dell into taking them for the treats. Willow believed the dynamic was changing in the group and would not go back to the way it had been. She commented that endings signal the beginning of something else.


It is in this chapter that the theme of signs and the importance of signs is introduced. Notice that Jairo is described as a man who pays attention to signs. Jairo had been deeply moved by Willow’s statement to him that he shouldn’t let anyone tell him that he can’t “do it.” Although Willow had actually been referring to her own accomplishment of successfully getting a taxi, he believed she was talking to him, addressing his own goal. Believing that the unusual young lady was some sort of sign indicating to him it was time to get on with his original plan of going back to school, he went and picked up a pamphlet at a community college. When Jairo was called to pick Willow up a second time, she noticed a mole on his neck and warned him to have it checked. As Jairo had already decided Willow was a bringer of signs, it is no doubt he will take her warning seriously.

It is also in this section that the reader learns what happened to Willow’s parents, and, perhaps more importantly what they’d learned just before their wreck. Because of a breast tumor, Roberta was on her way to a doctor to get the lump removed. Knowing how upsetting it would be to Willow, they decide not to tell her about her mother’s tumor. The two were killed on their way to Roberta’s second doctor’s appointment. Her parents’ quick death in the car accident kept Willow from knowing that her mother possibly had cancer. It also explains why neither parent had returned Willow’s phone messages saying she would be late. It is ironic that at the same time that Mai was trying to manipulate Dell into taking them for ice cream, Willow’s parents were facing this terrible news, then having a car wreck. While Willow had no idea what had happened to her parents, she is correct in her assumption while still at the ice cream restaurant that she would always remember that day and that things would never be the same.

Notice also that although Willow seems socially retarded, in a way, she realizes when she has stepped over the line when she tells Mai that Mai is her closest friend. Willow is perceptive enough that she realizes she has put Mai in an uncomfortable situation and quickly thinks up a way to lessen the pitch. Her explanation that Mai is actually her only friend at that time makes Mai smile.

These chapters remain in the past tense, as the events have not yet caught up with the first chapter of the novel where Willow learned her parent were dead. Chapters 13 and 15 are both told from the third person point of view. Chapter 13 is focused on Jairo while Chapter 15 focuses on Willow’s parents, Jimmy and Roberta Chance. It is the only chapter in the novel that is told from their focus point.

Discussion Question 1

Consider the way that Willow tells Jairo that his mole might mean trouble. What might you have done in this situation?

Discussion Question 2

Do you respect Roberta and Jimmy’s decision not to tell Willow about Roberta’s tumor? How might you have handled this information at Willow’s age? Do you think there might have been a better way to handle the situation?

Discussion Question 3

Why do you think it is significant that the only piece of two vehicles that are not mangled in the wreck is the plate containing a number to call to evaluate the medical van’s driving?


shaman, nevus, asymmetrical, recede, dynamic

This section contains 1,002 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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