Welcome back to Prutha screaming part who-even-knows-anymore!
2020 me would be shook to see that a contemporary has become one of my all time favourite books because till just a few months ago, I did not pick up books with romance whatsoever but here I am, crying over Counting Down With You!
When I came across this title and saw that it has desi rep, anxiety rep and the fake-dating trope, I was instantly sold. I would have sold my kidney to read this one ASAP but thanks to the ARC gods, I was able to read an early copy of it! If you follow me over at my Twitter, you must have seen me scream about this book nonstop, even my display name is counting down the days till it releases 😎
Today I’m super excited to review Counting Down With You and hopefully persuade you all to pick this one up yourselves or at the very least, add it to your already long TBR!
Counting Down With You
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 to Inkyard Press for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This did not impact my opinion in any way.
All the quotes used in this post are from an advance reader copy and may differ in the final publication.
Counting Down With You follows Karina Ahmed, a Bangladeshi teenager who plans to get through the school year keeping her head down and obeying her parents’ every word— especially their desire for her to study medicine after high school and become a doctor. In reality, Karina secretly wants to pursue a career out of Literature, something she excels in, but there is no chance for her to do so because her parents have basically planned out her life on their own terms.
When Karina’s parents leave the country to visit their relatives in Bangladesh, she expects some peace and quiet. All she intends to do is hang out with her friends Cora and Nandini after school and spend time with her grandma, but it all goes downhill when her English teacher asks her to tutor the school’s bad boy Ace Clyde.
Tutoring a white boy was already against the rules but when Ace declares that Karina is his girlfriend out of the blue and asks her to fake date him in order to impress his parents, Karina is sure that she’ll be dead meat if her parents find out.
“I’m drowning in a pool of moonlight, my lungs are full of stars”
Ace is kind to her, he gets her coffee every morning and even agrees to buy her a dozen books every week if she goes with the flow. Karina can’t help but count down the days to when her parents would return and hope that this whole situation to go back to normal, but what if she doesn’t want everything to be the way it was?
Karina’s perspective was a delight to read this book from. I saw so much of myself in her character, from being a brown girl with anxiety and having a supportive and sweet grandma, I felt seen while reading this book.
A huge part of the book was Karina wanting and trying to do what is best for her— things that make her happy. Though she wanted to study Literature, due to her parents, she was forced to focus on medicine even though that wasn’t something she enjoyed. It is quite normal for desi parents to set a goal for their children and not take any input from the kids on what they personally like to do. Even so from a sense of them wanting a stable career for their kids, this can end up being very toxic.
“I wish we could all live our lives in peace, without these expectations that seem to dictate our every breath.”
Ace was a brilliant character too. He was hilarious, annoying and understanding, which will make you instantly fall for him. Though at first, it may seem that he is just another rich dude who doesn’t care about anyone else, the more you read, the more you uncover about his personality. He has officially been added to my list of white boys with rights!
I loved how he was ready to respect Karina’s boundaries, how he helped Karina during her anxiety attacks. All this made the book super wholesome.
The other characters Cora and Nandini, Karina’s best friends were a pleasure too. Their fun and outgoing personalities and how they never hesitated to stay by Karina’s side (and also occasionally tease her) made this book so much more real. All best friends are, as Karina put it, clowns who you wouldn’t trade for the world, just like them.
“Maybe I have a weakness for beautiful boys with gentle hearts”
The fake-dating trope is exactly as promising as it sounds, and this book honestly made it one of my all-time favourite tropes because of the cheesy pickup lines, awkward and cute moments and of course, Karina’s journey from despising Ace to falling for him.
The anxiety representation was well done too, the author’s portrayal of intrusive thoughts and anxiety attacks was super accurate. Also, I would like to say that Dadu, Karina’s grandma is a literal angel. She was so supportive of Karina no matter what and binged Bollywood movies with her?? We stan.
Although poetry isn’t my cup of tea, Karina’s little poems were beautiful. The way she wove her words, made them very emotional.
“The moon falls from the sky and a boy rises from the ruins carved by celestial dust.”
In spite of me not being a huge fan of contemporaries, especially the ones centring romance, I devoured this book in just three days and cannot stop thinking about it ever since. I found myself wanting to keep coming back to this book every time I put it down.
Overall, Counting Down With You was a brilliant YA book with lovable characters who will live in your heart rent-free and a plot that will make you scream and sob!
Representation: Bangladeshi MC with Anxiety, Indian SC, Biracial (half-Chinese) Bisexual SC, Lesbian SC
Trigger Warnings: Anxiety attacks, mentions of parental abuse (verbal and psychological.)
About the author
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 is an Author Mentor Match alum. Born and raised in Queens, she’s been a New Yorker her entire life and grew up in the city that never sleeps. As a writer (and avid reader), she’s used to not getting that much sleep anyway.
Since she was in sixth grade, she’s been attempting her hand at telling stories. Her first novel was an outstanding six pages. From the middle grade summers spent in the library, where her mother used to work, to the high school years spent in the hallways of Bronx Science writing thousands and thousands of words that will thankfully never see the light of day, she’s developed an intense passion for the written word.
Nowadays, she can be found in either a bookstore or a Chipotle in midtown rambling about the ten billion book ideas in her head (or the latest meme she happened to come across on Twitter) using a significant amount of hand gestures.