Nancy Paulsen Books
(Penguin Young Readers)
August 27th, 2019
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"Count Me In is a gem of a book, both funny and heartbreaking in equal measure. With its deeply moving portrayal of the healing power of empathy, this is an important and necessary story." - Aisha Saeed, author of the New York Times bestseller Amal Unbound
"It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this heartfelt novel
started a movement of its own! Readers will want to
stand up and cheer for Karina and Chris and Papa, and
shout to every corner of the world, 'COUNT ME IN!'"
- Kathi Appelt, author of the
Newbery Honor winner The Underneath
Karina knows hate crimes
happen everywhere . . . but
she never imagined she'd face one herself.
Karina isn't friends with Chris, the boy
next door. Why would she want to be,
when the guys he hangs out with act like
a pack of rude laughing hyenas? But when
her grandfather starts tutoring Chris and
the three of them begin spending time together,
she's happy to discover that Chris
is not at all like she expected him to be.
He actually has a mind of his own and is
thoughtful and funny. Becoming friends
with him is one of the big surprises of her
middle school life.
Then something unthinkable happens - a stranger assaults them, targeting
her Indian American grandfather, who gets badly injured. Karina and Chris are
devastated but vow not to let hate win.
When Karina's moving social media posts about the attack go viral and the press descends, she and Chris have to decide how they will use their newfound fame. It's intimidating to speak out - but how can they not?
Varsha Bajaj's compelling story celebrates finding one's voice in tough times,
and a community rallying to support its people.
"What made you share your pictures of what happened on your
photo feed?" Mrs. Maxwell asks.
"I wanted people to be as outraged as me at the way Papa
was treated," I say. "The story needed to be told. It's important
because I love my country, but I don't like this hateful side of it.
And for me, I feel I tell better stories with my pictures than I do
"You’re pretty good with words too." Mrs. Maxwell smiles
wide. "What did you mean when you used the hashtag 'Count
I take a minute and breathe. “It means that I cannot be quiet
anymore. Count on me to speak up."