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Count Me In

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  242 ratings  ·  73 reviews
An uplifting story, told through the alternating voices of two middle-schoolers, in which a community rallies to reject racism.

Karina Chopra would have never imagined becoming friends with the boy next door–after all, they’ve avoided each other for years and she assumes Chris is just like the boys he hangs out with, who she labels a pack of hyenas. Then Karina’s
Published August 27th 2019 by Nancy Paulsen Books
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Average rating 4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  242 ratings  ·  73 reviews

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Colby Sharp
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mg-novel, 2019, 2019-nerdy
I liked Count Me In so much that I am going to make it my last read aloud of the 2018-2019 school year. I cannot wait for my students to meet Karina and Chris. These characters and their story will hold a special place in the hearts of children. This is a special book.
Padma Venkatraman
A book about hate crimes that's easy to love. So happy to welcome this book into the world. Bajaj mixes moments of humor in with an examination of a tough and timely topic in a story that is sure to be a splendid success.
This made me feel things. Full review available here!
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Listened to the audio! Very important story and will inspire meaningful discussions in the classrooms.
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Guys - this book. It is SO GOOD. There is humor and empathy and friendship and family - and it shows how social media, so often demonized, is nothing but a tool. It can be used for good or ill, and can be used to show others a viewpoint or a sight or an understanding they may not have had before.

The book is told from the alternating viewpoints of two kids - Karina and Chris. Sometimes that is a struggle to keep involved with, but I felt it was done really well here. And it was good to see how
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura Gardner
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
ok? Karina and Chris live next door, but they don’t spend much time together. Karina, an Indian American girl who loves photography, is sometimes picked on for having hairy arms and looking different. Chris has never been mean to Karina, but he also hasn’t stood up for her. When Karina’s grandfather Papa comes to live with the family he becomes a math tutor in the kids’ school and starts tutoring Chris, which brings the teens closer together. But just as Chris and Karina are getting to know each ...more
Shaye Miller
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I saw this cover for the first time, I thought this was a children's picture book. But no, it's definitely a middle grade novel.Karina Chopra, and her next-door-neighbor,Chris Daniels, have never been all that close despite haven't grown up in the same class. In fact, Chris has witnessed Karina being bullied and yet he never had the courage to speak out. But all that changes one day when together they face racist brutality and slowly watch the aftermath unfold as bystanders interpret the ...more
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books for an eARC of this book.

Told in alternating viewpoints, Karina and Chris are next door neighbors who become friends after Karina's grandfather (Papa) moves in with her family and starts to tutor Chris in math. One day, Papa is assaulted by a stranger because he's not white (he's Indian) while he's out with Karina and Chris. While he's confined to a hospital bed, Karina starts a movement called #CountMeIn to show that being American
Laura Beam
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you stumble upon stories, so important and so needed, that it almost feels as if the clouds have parted and the sun is coming through. That is how I felt when I opened up the pages of (my advanced reader copy of) Varsha Bajaj's Count Me In. The story of Karina Chopra and Chris Daniels is one of pain and hope. It tells the story, through alternating perspectives, of a friendship between a second generation Indian American girl, her white next door neighbor, and her grandfather before ...more
Nov 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good for Kids Who Feel They Fit In

A Sikh man and his family are tormented by some people in their community for being Muslim. The father is especially harassed as he wears a turban. Eventually the father gets really hurt. A good very conventional book with an unconventional family which many minority kids feel comfortable. I felt it was too superficial and doesn’t go very deep. Plot driven, characters aren’t very deep. I’m finding many YA novels about minority families are choosing to safe a
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Order this now. Typical of a Nancy Paulsen book, it was a meaningful story that I devoured. Karina's family experiences a racist assault, and she uses social media to make a difference. This will be a perfect choice for reading aloud and for student-led book clubs because of the important discussion it will elicit
Erin Varley
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Five well-deserved stars. Should be required reading for everyone.
Lorie Barber
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Timely. Important. I thought a lot about students I have now and students I will have and now we learn to share our voices. COUNT ME IN supports this idea without sounding preachy. I love the subtle changes that happen in Chris and the deep, permanent changes that Karina goes through. A beautiful must-read, and a must-add to my classroom library.
Jun 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2019, middle-years
So many other, better-written books are covering this topic. "The Best At It" by Maulik Pancholy is fantastic for one. I'm really sorry that this is so bad because racism, hate crimes, and Islamophobia are all incredibly urgent issues -- but I can't recommend this book despite its subject matter.

Stilted, forced, flat, predictable. An utter lack of contractions makes everyone sound like a robot, and the dialogue is so patently fake. Parents calling a racist assailant a "hater" in all seriousness
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Interest Level: 5-8; Reading Level: 4.9

Have you ever been mistreated or bullied because of your skin color? Some of the boys at Karina's middle school make fun of her because her skin color is darker than theirs. Karina is Indian and she doesn't let the boys teasing bother her because she is proud of herself and her family background. Chris, who is white, is her next door neighbor. Karina has never had anything to do with Chris because it is his friends that bully her. Also, Chris' father is not
Ms. Yingling
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
ARC provided by Follett First Look

Karina lives next door to Chris and goes to school with him. They used to tolerate each other, and she thought he was decently nice, but on the first day of middle school, idiot boys on the bus made fun of Karina's arms for being hairy, and Chris went along with them. Told in alternating view points, we hear from Chris, who doesn't like the jerky boys, but isn't quite sure how to stand up to them. He likes Karina, so when her grandfather, Papa, moves in with
Mandy Stallard
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookposse
After witnessing her grandfather and friend be attacked by an angry racist man, Karina becomes an "accidental activist" by sharing pictures from the scene of the crime, her grandfather's recovery, as well as a picture of him and her grandmother not long after they immigrated to the United States. She begins tagging her posts with #CountMeIn. When asked by a reporter what her hashtag means, she shares that she will no longer be silent; she can be counted on to speak up against hate and ...more
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Karina and Chris may be next door neighbors but they also might as well live on opposite sides of the country. Their interactions are few and far between. As a result, each develop a multitude of assumptions about the other. When Karina’s grandfather moves in, he becomes a bridge between her and Chris. Their friendship blooms, but a hateful attack on Karina’s grandfather brings them even closer together. While Karina’s grandfather recovers from the cowardly, racist assault, Karina and Chris ...more
Lizz Axnick
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book I hope will gain momentum and widespread reading. It is both sad and imperative that we still have to address racial profiling and hate crimes even now. However, this story handles the tough subject matter with aplomb and grace. I actually caught myself getting teary several times.

Karina Chopra and Chris Daniels have lived next door to each other forever, but they are not really friends. Their families co-exist beside one another without really knowing each other. Chris
Kristin Crouch
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to the publisher for sharing a copy of Count Me In with Collabookation.
This book starts out reading like a typical middle school relationship drama book, but soon takes a swift turn into more serious matter. *This is not at all to diminish 'middle school relationship' books, they are often wonderful books to help kids navigate a very complicated time.
After Karina and Chris do end up beginning a friendship, they are walking home together with Karina's grandpa when they get verbally
Russell Sanders
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, wondrous work of art has been released to the universe today, and its creator Varsha Bajaj should be proud indeed. Her novel Count Me In, written for middle grade readers, is one of those works that transcends genre. Bajaj, with beautiful skill, amazing creativity, a poetic command of language, and a heart as big as Texas, has written a book that everyone should read and that everyone should read to their children as soon as they reach the age when they can understand the characters ...more
Andrew Charles
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fantastic! Read the whole thing in one sitting! Would make a GREAT classroom text, too.

Immediately I hated Chris for the annoying things he did on the bus. And then I immediately loved him, my favorite character actually!

Their relationship grew naturally and it was a really strong friendship. I loved the classic “jock and nerd become friends” trope with the other “misfits”.

My favorite part was how little of a role Chris had in the situation. I was very happy that he didn’t make it all about
Kendall Ball
May 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I am happy to have received a galley if this book to be published in August—

Count Me In the story of a friendship, a tragic crime, and a movement. Karina and Chris become close friends and founders of a social media movement after Karina and her grandfather become victims of a hate crime. They speak out about what it means to be American and gain support for her grandfather. The story is much needed, but it is told in a very heavy-handed manner. The young characters are shockingly mature and
Christina Soontornvat
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much. Full of heart and wonderful characters. I thought it was quite impressive how the author takes a tough topics like racism and xenophobia and addresses at a level that is just right for the middle grade audience. The main characters' families are supportive and loving, but the kids work through their own problems, which is so important in a book for young readers. I also thought that the way Karina uses social media to build awareness and engagement around the terrible ...more
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, 5th&up
When her beloved grandfather is subjected to a racially motivated attack right in front of her, Karina finds that the boy next door might be a better ally and friend than she ever expected.
This story is not perfect (for instance, I was kind of taken aback by the abrupt & violent fate of the racist), but it ultimately has a lovely message, sympathetic characters & a moving plot that is all too believable. It presents middle grade readers with a realistic portrayal of
Katie Reilley
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you so much to Nancy Paulsen & Penguin Kids for sharing an ARC with our #bookexpedition group!

Middle grade readers need to meet Karina & Chris, two neighbor kids who slowly develop a friendship despite their different social circles. When Karina’s grandfather begins tutoring Chris in math, the three of them spend time together, and the friendship grows. But then, something unimaginable happens-Karina’s grandfather is assaulted in a hate crime with Karina and Chris there to witness
Joy Kirr
This book creates an easy way to start talking about hate crimes and humans not understanding that it’s okay to be different. What does it mean to be American? Written by alternating seventh grade viewpoints of Karina and Chris, it’s at a lower reading level so it’s accessible to younger kids, as well. They share that Americans come in all colors and ages. I loved the message and believe it needs to be shared. I also love Karina's grandfather, Papa. I think this book would be a good fit for ...more
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-copies
Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is such a timely and important book for young readers.

Karina and her neighbor Chris are two very different people who don't have much to do with each other, that is until Karina's Papa moves to town. Because her grandfather beings to tutor Chris, Karina begins to understand him better and a bond is formed when a tragic incident helps them understand that while they are different they can
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Varsha Bajaj grew up in Mumbai, India. When she came to the United States to obtain her master’s degree, her adjustment to the country was aided by her awareness of the culture through books. In addition to her previous picture books, she wrote the middle-grade novel Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood, which was shortlisted for the Cybils Award and included on the Spirit of Texas Reading Program. She ...more
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