I have been on a contemporary kick and this book scratched all of the itches I had! Fake dating? Friends to lovers? Anxiety rep? Super cute moments and references I can’t get out of my head? This book checked them all!
Thank you to Turn the Page Tours and Inkyard Press for providing me with a copy for review. This is an honest, spoiler free review and all thoughts and feelings are my own.
Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan
Release Date: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
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?
Though I’m not Bangladeshi or Muslim, I am a Jewish girl and the daughter of an immigrant and I could relate a lot to the fears Karina had about pursuing her dream. I also have anxiety, which Karina also suffers from, so I was relating a lot to her feelings and emotions throughout this book.
All Karina wants is to make her parents proud – but that means sacrificing her dreams of being an English major at Columbia. Her parents want her to be a doctor, they expect her to be a doctor, so that’s what she will become. Karina doesn’t like having to follow her parents strict rules and expectations, but she does as she is asked if it means not disappointing them or inciting an anxiety attack.
Until she starts tutoring Ace. Ace, the bad boy who doesn’t seem all that bad. And then he tells his family that they’re dating when they’re definitely not. Karina agrees to fake date Ace to cover up the fact that he’s being tutored in English, but they both quickly realize that this fake dating is starting to turn into really dating…
I loved this book so much. Not only could I relate to Karina’s struggle with wanting to make her parents happy and proud versus her own wants and dreams, but the struggle with anxiety was also really relatable. I could feel exactly what Karina was feeling during her anxiety attacks and I’ve used some of the coping mechanisms she was using to try and stop herself from feeling anxious. While I don’t count backwards like she does, I do count my breaths and will do the square breathing method when feeling anxious.
One thing I thought was strange in this book was how quickly Ace took an interest in Karina. More so it was funny how quick he took an interest in her. On their first meeting he was trying to get to know her, either to avoid studying or because he was genuinely curious, and I thought it was strange he was so interested in her so quickly, without even knowing her ahead of time. But, once Ace knew who Karina was, it was clear he fell and fell hard. I kind of wanted them to have more head butting in the beginning, maybe Ace being more aloof at first, before their romance started kicking in. While I think love at first sight can be a real thing, it didn’t feel right in this book, especially since it was kind of one sided at first.
Besides that, I really liked how this book was set up, with the days counting down until Karina’s parents came home from Bangladesh. It definitely increased the anxiety around the whole situation and made it even more pressing for me as a reader. With each day counting down, my anxiety for them grew, as well as my hope that everything would be okay. And the more I saw Karina gathering her bravery and her strength for the difficult conversation ahead of her, the more proud I great as a reader! Though I wasn’t looking forward to her parents coming home at all. I loved the scenes with Dadu and Karina, how sweet they were, and it makes me wish I had a grandparent like that.
And speaking of which, Dadu is 100% my favorite character! While I loved Cora and Nandini, they really are awesome friends, I loved Dadu’s advice and how she not only cared so much about Karina but really fought for her family. It’s clear that the woman cares so much about her family and is willing to do anything for them. Though don’t get me wrong, I loved Cora and Nandini. They were such awesome friends who not only were fun to be around, they are also so caring and actively looking out for Karina. They reminded me a lot of my own friends honestly and I loved that.
Overall, this book is so sweet. I loved the interactions Karina has with her friends and with Ace. And every time she talks with Dadu I couldn’t stop smiling. This book was so heartwarming and made me feel a little braver by the end too.
If you’re in the mood for contemporary romance, I’ve reviewed a few, but my latest one is What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka!