counting down with you – tashie bhuiyan | review

Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan

Published May 4th 2021 by Inkyard Press
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mental Health
Representation: Bangladeshi-Muslim MC with anxiety; Indian SC; half-Chinese bi SC; side f/f relationship


Rating: 4 out of 5.


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?


trigger and content warnings:

“I think your heart runs as wild as mine and that’s why this works. It’s why you keep trying, even when anyone else would have already given up. You see me.”

For someone who needs tutoring in English, Ace’s words, though cliché, towards Karina, makes me swoon all the time. His unconditional support and concern for Karina whenever it was needed or not showed the extent of his feelings. Ace might wear a leather jacket but he’s no bad boy.

In fact, he’s the sweetest person. As he charms book-lover Karina into being her fake girlfriend (bait: books), Ace showed moments of vulnerability and hurt when it came to his home life. The music-loving boy and solar system extraordinaire who burned a CD playlist for Karina have my heart.

Both Ace and Karina deal with familial expectations which were absolutely suffocating. Xander and Ace are thorns in each other’s sides. The relationship between the brothers changed drastically when their parents got divorced. For Ace, he could never be better than his older brother–the student body president, loved by all, handsome and rich.

Having a younger brother, a robotics genius, didn’t help with her parents’ expectations of entering anything related to STEM. Samir and Karina’s sibling relationship is an impactful one. It just showed how much things can change once people communicated and overcame misunderstandings. Samir, not understanding the weight of his parents’ expectations on his older sister and the difference in treatment between the siblings, just spoke volumes.

“I want to light a match and send you up in flames. You’re a forest fire waiting to happen.”

More than just a romance story, Counting Down with You features Karina who struggles between the expectations of her parents and what she truly wants. Being a doctor was never in her mind but definitely in her parents’. During the month that they were away, the thought of pursuing an English major became more obvious and irresistible. Their insistence for her to be a doctor started to suffocate Karina. Unable to hold a decent conversation without fearing the backlash and utter disappointment, Karina couldn’t even begin to convince her parents about her true desires.

The longer I look at him, the easier I can breathe.

Karina finds support from other people. Namely, Cora and Nandini. Both of them knew how much Karina loves English and writing but unable to do anything, the best friends just showed unquestioning love for Karina whenever she needed it. They can be quite chaotic especially when they found out about Ace’s adoration for Karina which honestly, same. If I have a friend who’s fake dating the “bad boy” in school, and finding out that he actually likes her, I’ll be all over that romance.

While Karina’s parents were away, Dadu came to stay with the kids. Grandma’s not-as-strict rules stunned Karina initially but she started to experience more things in life when she had more freedom and space to grow. The only blood relation Karina could 100 percent talk to is her grandmother. Without hesitation, Dadu supports Karina’s love for words rather than numbers.

Just a little note: I’ve read many books about characters who struggled with their racial identities but Karina in Counting Down with You is incredibly in tuned and adored her Bangladeshi roots and culture. While I do enjoy books that discuss the former, it’s nice to have a character who doesn’t go through that.

“If I’m lightening, then what are you?”
“I’m thunder. I’ll follow you wherever you go.”

In the end, Counting Down with You deals with parental expectations and the crushing guilt that seemingly should sacrifice someone’s future happiness. Karina reflects upon this while falling in love with a bad boy who turns out to be the one giving Karina the push for more.

I’m a Book Depository Affiliate! I get a tiny commission that supports my blogging journey. If you do plan to buy the book, just click on the Book Depository button up top.

10 thoughts on “counting down with you – tashie bhuiyan | review”

  1. I have been hesitant to pick up this book because I have heard it doesn’t do a good job at depicting Muslim parents but I think I’m going to give this a try! 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s