Summary: A reserved Bangladeshi teenager has twenty-eight days to make the biggest decision of her life after agreeing to fake date her school’s resident bad boy.
How do you make one month last a lifetime?
Karina Ahmed has a plan. Keep her head down, get through high school without a fuss, and follow her parents’ rules—even if it means sacrificing her dreams. When her parents go abroad to Bangladesh for four weeks, Karina expects some peace and quiet. Instead, one simple lie unravels everything.
Karina is my girlfriend.
Tutoring the school’s resident bad boy was already crossing a line. Pretending to date him? Out of the question. But Ace Clyde does everything right—he brings her coffee in the mornings, impresses her friends without trying, and even promises to buy her a dozen books (a week) if she goes along with his fake-dating facade. Though Karina agrees, she can’t help but start counting down the days until her parents come back.
T-minus twenty-eight days until everything returns to normal—but what if Karina no longer wants it to?
Thank you so much Caffeine Book Tours for selecting me to be a part of this tour! I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Click on the banner below to view the schedule of this tour.
Title: Counting Down With You
Author: Tashie Bhuiyan
Cover: Samya Arif (artist), Gigi Lau (art direction)
Publication date: 04 May 2021
Age group: Young Adult
- POC (Bangladeshi-American MC; Black, Indian, and Chinese side characters)
- Religion (Muslim MC)
- Mental health (MC with anxiety)
Hi I have literally never felt to seen in a book till date???????
Counting Down With You has been high up my TBR ever since it was announced simply because it has one of my favourite tropes — fake dating. To add to it we have a South Asian MC with anxiety and I couldn’t have been more excited. Needless to say I flew through the book and had the time of my life reading it (and crying over the last few chapters).
I can’t explain it but reading Counting Down With You was exactly like the feeling of cotton candy dissolving in your mouth. This trope filled YA cotemporary hit all the sweet spots for me. I experienced a whole spectrum of emotions throughout the book and I’m glad Tashie Bhuiyan delivered.
❛T-27 days. I’m going to try to make every single one of them count.❜
Karina, the protagonist I wanted as a brown girl, the protagonist I saw myself in. Her anxiety and how she dealt with it spoke to me. I got the constant apologising, the feeling of not wanting to let others down, feeling overwhelmed by the expectations. (Speaking of, I should really try aromatherapy). I loved her for her passion in English and I loved that she fought to pursue it. All the while I also understood her want to make her parents proud and not dismiss their sacrifices. It’s a heavy burden to live up to your parents’ expectations and try not to disappoint them, especially as the elder child.
Karina’s experiences were raw and real — I admire her for both silently following what her parents want her to do and for standing up for herself and taking control of her life. As an Indian studying in STEM her story felt all the more personal to me. Tashie brought a wonderful character with strong emotions to life. Teens who struggle under parental and societal expectations, resultant anxiety and the feeling of not wanting to take their life for granted will definitely relate to Karina.
Ace, the white boy to deserve rights, might seem like the typical bad boy at first but I ended up liking him for his gentle and aspiring personality which is hidden beneath the leather jacket, cool rings and annoying smirk. He listens to Karina be it about her dreams or when she’s making him realise how privileged he is, gives her the space she needs and respects her boundaries. He’s not the white-guy-who-saves-brown-girl, Karina can very much handle her problems, Ace is just a catalyst to push her towards grabbing her chance at happiness, bringing out the spark in her.
❛My lionheart. It’s always going to be your decision, but I hope you know I believe in you more than anything.❜
Their relationship is pure serotonin!! The banter, soft conversations and flirty moments are a delight to read. Tashie used some of my favourite tropes for developing their romance, making me squeal. I mean, Ace buys Karina books, coffee and sweets while they’re *faking* it and I can’t even get a second glance? Thanks Tashie, for making me feel so single. It does get cheesy sometimes but I do love an occasional dose of it. And to be honest, we all could use an occasional cheesy rom-com in our lives.
Tashie included beautiful poems to bring out the English major in Karina. The words and meaning behind them served as a great outlet for her feelings. I loved reading those words.
While her relationship with her parents might be shaky, Karina had a great support system. Dadu is my favourite character, a stellar example of how grandparents love their grandchildren a lot. Her high school friend group, Cora and Nandini were always there for a hug or to just support her. I liked the development of her relationship with her brother Samir, as she makes him realise he’s favoured and has it easier compared to her.
I do think this book will appeal to teen and Gen Z readers more, because of the writing style and internet slangs used, which definitely made me grin.
Personally, I would’ve liked if we’d gotten more of the girl group and a little more conflict towards the ending, but I liked the flow enough to not complain.
TLDR; Counting Down With You has left me warm all over. If you like a tropey romance with a different take that touches your heart, a story about love and the strength to choose what’s right for oneself, Tashie’s debut is the perfect book!
❛If happiness were a bird, it would be fluttering weakly, its heartbeat so faint that it disappears when you look away.❜
Tashie Bhuiyan is a Bangladeshi American writer based in New York City. She recently graduated from St. John’s University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, and hopes to change the world, one book at a time. She loves writing stories about girls with wild hearts, boys who wear rings, and gaining agency through growth. When she’s not doing that, she can be found in a Chipotle or bookstore, insisting 2010 is the best year in cinematic history. (Read: Tangled and Inception.)