Title: Counting Down With You
Author: Tashie Bhuiyan
Publication date: 04 May 2021
Age group: Young Adult
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?
POC (Bangladeshi-American MC; Black, Indian, and Chinese side characters)
Religion (Muslim MC)
Mental health (MC with anxiety)
Trigger and Content Warnings
In-depth discussions of mental health (specifically anxiety) and mentions of parental abuse (emotional and psychological)
When I was reading this book, terrible, horrible brutality was being unleashed on the Palestinians by Israel. I did my best to show support by constantly retweeting and sharing stuff. But my heart was so heavy (cannot imagine what the Palestinians are going through), I needed something to keep me from spiraling into a depressive anxiety.
This book showed up to do exactly that.
It’s full of fluff and adorableness and all the cuteness that a romcom needs. Rarely I have read romcoms where the couple don’t fight over stupid misunderstandings that can be remedied over a conversation. Here, there is no such stupid misunderstandings. Here, it is mainly Karina’s story, not just the love story in her life. CDWY is more about Karina rebelling against her parents strict and stern rules flouted at her. Here, Karina battles anxiety and stress over making her parents happy, or making herself happy. Here, Karina finds support in a loving gaggle of best friends and a warm, kind-hearted grandmother. This book is about finding yourself and loving yourself and standing up for yourself, even if it means rebelling against the people you love with all your heart. Karina’s bravery is soft, not fiery and loud. She’s a brown girl whose parents are immigrants, dreaming and hoping big things for her, even if it means stifling her own dreams. Unlike white girls, it’s not easy for brown Desi girls with immigrant parents. Karina’s defiance and rebellion aren’t to disrespect and paint her parents as the villains. They’re to help her breathe, dream, create, without the suffocating pressure of parental expectations. If you’ve never experienced this, you won’t get it. Hence this is not a book everyone will get, let alone love. But anyone who’s been in Karina’s situation, like I was and still am sometimes, will see how strong and resilient she is. She wants her dreams fulfilled and her parents be proud of her for those dreams. And why not? Why can’t she have both? Why can’t she nurture and pursue her dreams, be with the boy who stole her heart, AND be blessed by her parents’ pride in her? Why can’t a brown girl have it all?? Too many times, Western media showed brown Muslim parents as someone who are strict to the point of honor killing and forced marriage and etc etc. Here, Tashie Bhuiyan shows that, although brown Muslim parents can be extremely strict to their kids, they can change and be lenient and supportive to their kids. And boy, am I glad to see this kind of portrayal.
we’ll pretend it’s a game of lost and foundPage 197 of COUNTING DOWN WITH YOU by Tashie Bhuiyan, published by Inkyard Press (May 4, 2021)
or maybe even hide-and-seek
and perhaps for a while
in the darkness of the night
it will be enough
until the sun comes bursting from the east
and we fall to the flames
Besides this, I also found copious amount of things represented through Karina that I too have experienced.
1. Her parents being no boys no boys no boys to her all the time, to the point she can’t even have a male friend.
2. Her parents having STEM career expectations from her. Mine did too until I rebelled in uni and became an English major, something Karina wants to do too.
3. Her parents not allowing petting and touching any dogs, calling them Haram and all. Until recent years, I too never touched dogs, stray or not, and I realized recently how much I’ve missed out!
4. Her anxiety! Oh God, her anxiety is so believable!! And relatable!! I’m often an anxious mess, especially when unwanted attention falls on me. I’ve been an anxious mess since high school and I know how Karina feels every time the most trivial thing go wrong and you have no control over the outcome.
5. Loving literature. I’m such a lit nerd. Ever since I could read, I’ve loved reading with all my existence. I even starve myself to save lunch money and use them to buy book. One Eid, I even told my parents not to buy me new clothes just so I can use the money to buy books. I live and breathe books and literature.
I am not Atlas, born to carry the weight of the worldPage 201 of COUNTING DOWN WITH YOU by Tashie Bhuiyan, published by Inkyard Press (May 4, 2021)
I am Icarus, wanting and wanting and wanting
at the risk of exploding when I fly too close to the sun
6. Like Karina, I too write poems occasionally and most of them are super personal.
Karina’s almost entire experience here were so relatable! I’ve almost never seen myself portrayed so well. This book is everything a brown Muslim girl like me needed and wanted and wished for from a YA romcom, no matter what my age is while reading it.
Thank you, NetGalley, Caffeine Book Tour, and Inkyard Press, for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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.)