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|Count me in|
Author: Bajaj, Varsha
Told from two viewpoints, sixth-graders Karina and Chris use social media to stand up to racism in Houston, Texas, after an attack puts Karina's Indian American grandfather in the hospital.
Kirkus Reviews (06/15/19)
School Library Journal (08/01/19)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 07/01/2019 Karina has avoided her neighbor Chris ever since she noticed the company he kept resembled a pack of cackling hyenas. But when her grandfather moves from California to her Houston home and begins tutoring Chris, she learns that he's not at all like his cruel counterparts. Then, as the three are walking to their car, a stranger assaults them in a racially motivated attack—Karina and her grandfather are Indian American. When her grandfather is badly injured, Karina uses her keen eye to share images of the attack on her social media, amplifying her voice for a good cause. Bajaj—who has written a number of children’s books and another middle-grade novel—develops compassionate, relatable characters. The story celebrates resilience, the power of community, and even the benefits of social media during a time when hate crimes against the Indian Diaspora are on the rise. The alternating chapters between Karina and Chris show that Americans come in all colors. Karina's message, that we are stronger together, will easily resonate with readers. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 08/01/2019 Gr 4–8—Even though seventh graders Karina and Chris are next-door neighbors, they've never shared a class and don't really know each other. Karina, whose family is Indian, even remembers a few times when Chris, whose ethnicity isn't specified, sat idly by as his racist friends bullied her. But things begin to change when Karina's grandfather Papa, bored after moving in with Karina's family, takes up math tutoring—and Chris is his first student. Karina and Chris become unlikely friends and smooth over past differences. When the kids are walking outside one day with Papa, a white man who decides Papa is a terrorist pulls over and begins slinging hateful speech at the trio, culminating in a physical attack that sends Papa to the hospital. Karina and Chris draw on their friendship, their families, and the unexpectedly unifying power of social media for strength against fear and hatred. Fast-paced first-person narration alternates between Karina and Chris. This accessible read tackles weighty issues like racism and hatred, while the warmth of the growing friendship among Karina, Chris, and Papa carries readers through the book's stressful conflicts to its satisfying conclusion. VERDICT A solid recommendation for fans of books like Hena Khan's Amina's Voice and Gita Varadarajan and Sarah Weeks's Save Me a Seat.—Darla Salva Cruz, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.