Congratulations to Varsha Bajaj on the launch of her new book, Count Me In (Nancy Paulsen Book) which tackles topics like bullying, racism and prejudice.

Karina is Indian American and has lived in America her entire life, yet she still gets targeted with prejudice comments from the school bully. Her long-time neighor Chris is a causasion boy who has never gotten to know Karina or her family. But, when Karina’s grandfather comes to live with them, he starts tutoring math at the local school and Chris is his first student. Karina and Chris are forced to spend time together and unexpectidly become friends.

The alternating perspectives between Karina and Chris allows the reader to get a full understanding of the thoughts and feelings of both races. This is especially important when they become victims of a hate crime and Papa ends up in the hospital.

The message of the story is clear and straight forward. The characters talk openly about hate crimes and prejudice. And, although there are so many people who are good and supportive in the community, a few hate-filled ones can overshadow them all. Karina’s moving social media posts go viral and Count Me In is a hashtag that means count me in as one the good people, the people who will stand up to hate and speak out against it.