Counting Down with You

- Tashie Bhuiyan

Goodreads Book Blurb:

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?


My Review:

almost perfect:

Seriously, all of the feelings. I didn’t know that I needed Counting Down with You in my life, but it seems like Tashie Bhuiyan knew. I found it almost impossible to put down, even when I couldn’t stop crying.

Karina and Ace have the intense chemistry of two characters recognising a kindred spirit combined with the sweet innocence of first love. Ace has no problem going against his family but struggles to find the right balance between rebelling and taking control of his future. Karina has the same problem fighting against familial expectations but has many more cultural expectations to consider.

There are certain things I will never be able to do, and I'm not in the mood to explain our cultural differences to him. The last thing I need is for a white boy to try to fix any of my problems. There's nothing he can do - and there's nothing I want him to do.

I love the gentleness with which Karina and Ace hold space for one another. Karina has her lines that Ace respects without question, and Karina goes along with Ace’s plans even if she’s unsure of where they’re headed. Far from instalove, mutual respect, kindness, and attraction grow from infatuation in a believable period of time.

Even though the love story is the main focus in Counting Down with You, a lot is going on in the background. Karina has a wonderful support system in her (honestly crazy but well-intentioned) friends. Though her dream is to study English, she has spent her whole life working towards becoming a doctor at the express instruction of her parents. Karina watches her younger brother thrive at the subjects she dislikes and struggles to understand, while he also has the freedom to pursue his own interests. Meanwhile, Ace feels abandoned and alone while his brother actively works against him, poisoning the well in his own home. Then there are the deep discussions of cultural expectations in regards to gender, sexuality, relationships, mental health and studying STEM subjects versus the arts. All of this coexists with this budding romance, adding complexity and nuance to what otherwise could have been a simple teenage love story.

I fell unabashedly head over heels for Counting Down with You very quickly. As Bhuiyan says in the beginning in her author’s note:

If there is only one thing you take away from this book, let it be hope.

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