Book Review: Counting to 17 by A. E. Peremel

Counting to 17 by A. E. Peremel

J2B Publishing (February 7, 2019)

Literature & Fiction/Poetry/Death, Grief, & Loss




One evening in March 2018, Aliya, a 7th grader in Maryland, returned home from a student walkout at her school and began to write poems about the death of 17 in Florida.

In Stoneman Douglas High School
Blood still runs down the window panes
Screams still ring through the halls
And the echoes of the past
Live on
In the voices of the future

Counting to 17, finished 8 months later, is as fine a tribute to the 17 dead, 14 wounded, and Stoneman Douglas High School student body as any adult could write. Aliya’s desire to write about the Parkland shootings was propelled forward by Mahatma Gandhi’s admonition to:

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

She hopes Counting to 17 will create a greater push for keeping children safe in schools. Therefore, the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to Americans for Children’s Lives and School

“Change really does start with every single one of us.” – Aliya





Eighth Grader Publishes Poetic Tribute to Parkland Shootings to Raise Money for School Safety

Book of poems dedicated to the 17 dead and 14 injured in the Parkland, FL school shooting. Written by an eight-grade student from Annapolis, MD about the shootings. She was deeply affected by the event and these poems are her feelings. There are 17 poems which each has 17 lines. The poems are her way to understand what happened and to in a way, connect with the victims. Well written, thought provoking, and maturely stated. You can tell she believes in, and participates in the fact that change starts with every single one of us. She is donating all profits from this book to making schools safer. Donations will be sent to Americans for Children’s Lives and School Safety ( The charity was started by one of the Parkland victim’s parents.

Reviewed by Comfy Chair Books/Lisa Reigel (February 12, 2019)


What is your biggest fear?

Is it death?

Is it pain?

Is it grief?

Is it loss?


Is it spiders?

Or heights?

Or isolation?

What about fire?


Is it that you don’t belong?

Or that you never will?

Is it dying unfairly?

Or dying a coward?


A person that you can’t trust?

Maybe The Boy With The Gun?

Everybody has a reason to fear him

Especially when you are the one that his gun is point at


Aliya Echo Hill cropped closeup 2

Below is an interview provided by her publisher, J2B Publishing:

How long have you been writing, and how did you get started?

When I was very little, I used to create and write songs, but I really started writing in fourth grade, when we had to take a poetry class at school. I had an amazing teacher, and if it weren’t for that class, I probably wouldn’t love and appreciate poetry the way I do now.

What inspires you to write?

I strongly believe that you can find inspiration anywhere. Usually, my poems just come to me when I have a strong thought or emotion, but I also get a lot of inspiration from my surroundings. If you look for inspiration you will find it.

Do you consider writing to be a career?

Considering I am not even old enough to have a career, I do not think of it as one unless you are doing it full time, and are a very successful writer. If you have another job, then writing is not your career, but if it is the only thing that you do, and you do it full time, it is a career.

What kind of writing process do you use?

I don’t really have a process, usually, I wait for the idea to come to me.

How did you publish your book?

I am published by J2B Publishing. They are an independent press in Pomfret, MD that focuses on picture books, accessible and enjoyable poetry, and family histories. They specialize in publishing new authors. They can be reached at

Who are some of your favorite authors and why? How much do you feel they influence your own writing?

I like a lot of classic writers, like J.M. Barrie, Harper Lee, L.M. Montgomery, William Shakespeare, Alfred Noyes and Edgar Allen Poe. I also enjoy newer authors Lisa McMann, Leigh Bardugo, Ruta Sepetys, and Lois Lowry. The only two that really influence my writing are L.M. Montgomery, and Alfred Noyes. I try to experiment with writing Noyes-type poetry and I find L.M. Montgomery to be a beautiful and descriptive writer, and I try to base my descriptions off of hers.

What are you working on now?

Currently, I am working on touching up Regret, Revenge, Repeat, a story about a girl named Katie who’s family is kidnapped. She is recruited to a government academy to try to track them down and encounters some secrets to her past along the way. It is a middle-grade novel.

What do you want readers to know about you?

I am a very big football fan, my favorite team being the Denver Broncos because I was born in Boulder Colorado.

Also, I come from a Russian-American family, my mother being a Ukranian immigrant and my father born and raised in Baltimore. I am bilingual and have learned a great deal from my Holocaust Surviving grandparents.

What town do you live in?

Annapolis, MD

Please include a brief description of your book and a link to where it can be found online:

Counting to 17 is a poetic tribute to those affected by the Parkland Florida School Shooting.

Please include an excerpt from the book that you feel is compelling for local readers:

In Stoneman Douglas High School

Blood still runs down the window panes

Screams still ring through the halls

And the echoes of the past

Live on

In the voices of the future


In Stoneman Douglas High School

17 students will never graduate

14 will have their scars for the rest of their lives

And 100s of students have wounds

That go deeper than the bullets that caused them


In Stoneman Douglas High School

These 17 victims will never be forgotten

Their stories will never be disregarded

Just because they are dead doesn’t mean they are gone

Just because their voices are silent

Doesn’t mean the echoes aren’t there


Counting to 17 is available from the publisher at or on

To arrange for an interview or find out more about Aliya and Counting to 17, call 303-579-4928 or email




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