Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj

Published by Nancy Paulsen Books

Image result for count me in amazon

Summary:  Seventh graders Karina and Chris have been neighbors for years, but never friends.  When Karina’s grandfather moves in and starts tutoring Chris in math, though, the two discover they have more in common than they thought.  The three are on an outing together one day when a man attacks Karina’s Indian-American grandfather in front of the two kids, pulling a knife and hurling racist epithets.  Her grandfather ends up in the hospital, and all three are traumatized, but drawn closer together.  Karina uses her photography skills to express what she’s feeling, and before long some of her pictures have gone viral. Others in the community come together to show their support, and Karina’s #countmein tag becomes a way for people to share their own stories of how they became part of America.  171 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  With its alternating points of view and “stronger together” theme, this book reminded me a lot of Save Me A Seat by Sara Weeks.  Although it’s a quick read, there’s a lot to discuss, and most kids will find personal connections to the characters and settings.  This would make a great read-aloud or book club choice for fifth or sixth grade.

Cons:  With so much happening in relatively few pages, it felt like the characters lacked some depth.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

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