Cover Image: Counting Down with You

Counting Down with You

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Member Reviews

This book was good and I loved the characters and reading about someone whose culture is completely different from mine—I just felt like it went long and that much of it cold have been cut.
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I really wanted to love this. It was one of my most anticipated books for 2021, but after a friend read it and reviewed and shared some problematic elements I went into this story with much lower expectations. I liked Karina. She’s just a girl that wants to have some freedom to make her own choices. But she’s drowning under the expectations of her loved ones. I liked Karina and her friends. I like that it was a diverse friend group, but despite that diversity they still didn’t totally understand what she was struggling with. I really would have liked for her to make the effort to share her feelings with them. I think her friends did a really great job of respecting her boundaries when Karina laid them out. But I would have liked to see Karina open up to them more. Their friendship felt a little surface level. As for Ace, I liked him. I liked learning that he wasn’t his reputation. I thought their romance was sweet and fun. 
My biggest issue with this story was the way that Karina turned her parents into villains. It’s one thing to be scared or anxious about how they might react when she tells them she doesn’t want to be a doctor. But she acts like she fears for her life, like they actually might lay their hands on her. I also didn’t like how she made it seem like it were her parents telling her she couldn’t do things when in fact many of these things were against her religion. Karina made it seem like these things (dating a boy for example) were just her parents telling her she cannot do things when that wasn’t the case. That really just didn’t sit right with me. I think there could have been great conversation but Karina’s parents and all of her relatives were described as these strict and horrible parents. I think it leaned into a lot of stereotypes and I didn’t like that. 
I really wanted to love this book. But as I said above, there was just some stuff that didn’t sit right with me. I will say that the portrayal of anxiety was excellent and I really liked that we see Karina search for new coping methods and try them out.
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COUNTING DOWN WITH YOU is a heart-wrenching and visceral YA contemporary read. Karina (Myra is her familial name) is a 16-year-old Bangladeshi Muslim who loves to read and write poetry. She dreams of studying English at Columbia, but her parents dreams for her are oppressive. Her life is very regimented and there is little room for her own desires. When her parents go back to Bangladesh for a month, leaving her in the care of her loving Dadu (grandmother), Karina finally has room to breathe.

During those days, Karina is assigned to tutor a boy in her English class, Alistair (Ace), who is struggling in her favorite subject. Although she knows her parents would not approve of her spending any time with a boy, Karina agrees to help her favorite teacher as it will also waive the public speaking requirement that counts for a large portion of her grade. As she gets to know Ace, her feelings become even more complicated and his presenting her as his fake girlfriend makes everything seem to come apart at the seams.

Karina also has anxiety that she suppresses, and although she knows she needs help, because of her family's stance, she resorts to techniques she learned from google and her friends. During the month her parents are away, Karina is bolstered by the love of the people around her and able to examine her own wants and needs in a way she never could before - but what will she do when her parents return?

What I loved: This book hit me in a completely visceral way. There were tears streaming down my face for several chapters, and I include this as a good thing, because, wow, does Bhuiyan write in a way that brings these characters and emotions to life. This book completely pulls the reader in and gives a lot to think and feel. For teens struggling under the weight of parental or cultural expectations, this book sees you. I would love to put this book in the hand of every teen who has felt the crushing weight of parental expectations and disappointments and resultant anxiety, so they could know they are not alone and that they deserve their happiness too.

The romance here was really beautiful. I appreciated the honesty, the pace, the clarity of boundaries, and constructive reactions to boundaries. All of this sets a fantastic example for how relationships and love should be. Ace is #boyfriendgoals, seriously. Their relationship, boundary setting and respecting, and truths are all stunning.

An important part of the book is the people who love and support Myra/Karina. While not everyone in her position has this, I think this support is critical. She has Dadu, who is an all-around wonderful person, her BFFs, Cora and Nandini, who cannot always understand her life but believe her anyway, Ace, and eventually her brother, Samir/Rafiq. I found the discussions with siblings to be particularly poignant (both for Karina and Ace), as in situations with challenging parents, it can feel very isolating, especially when the experience by the person next to can be so completely different. Although both situations are very different, the conversations are held beautifully and the reader sees different ways in which needed support can be provided.

Other themes in the book were also poignant, including the sexism of the way that children of different genders are treated, religious prejudices, stigma around mental illness, and the way that speaking your truth and coming out can backfire in some families (side characters deal with LGBT coming out/dating experiences). These themes would make this book a fantastic discussion starter in the classroom or YA book club.

Final verdict: Beautiful, raw, and riveting, COUNTING DOWN WITH YOU is a stunning YA contemporary about love, happiness, and the search for your own path. Highly recommend reading this one - it is a book that will touch the heart and stick with the reader for a long time to come.

Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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I am not much for the enemies to lovers plot line but this one was sweet. I think the cover is also really cute.
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A lovely story.  I enjoyed reading about the Bangladesh culture of first generation kids in America. I also really appreciated how much was in here about living with anxiety, I felt it was an accurate depiction to read about Karina's struggles and how she worked at dealing with it. It's nice to see a YA love story too where the turbulence doesn't come from the relationship and serves as the grounding rod for both of them even though Karina and Ace are "so young" (been with my high school boyfriend for over 17 years, so it feels like it will easily last haha)
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4.5 stars
I listened to this audiobook and the narration of this and thought it was just delightful. The narration was wonderful and it struck such a great balance of remaining true to YA, containing heavy topics, and still being joyous.

Karina Ahmed's parents go to Bangladesh to visit family for a month and she gets to stay home with her brother and grandmother - and also gets to experience some freedom from her strict parent's rules for once. I adored her 2 friends - their group dynamic was so true to life, using actual teen slang, and being real hype girls for Karina but also yelling at their friends when they needed it. Sometimes YA has groups of friends that feel way too adult or extremely juvenile but this felt like the right fit to me. (In true romance reader fashion I hope to get books for them...)

There's a bit of fake dating set up and I really like Ace who is the love interest here. There's major cultural differences and Karina was not afraid to mention that there's no way she could date a white boy. But Ace proves himself in a million ways. I loved both protagonists in this book so much - the author did a great job of providing nuance to them since Ace is supposed to be a bad boy but he is so freaking soft when we get to know him! He freaking Googles the right way to speak to Karina's grandmother and figures out how to make her halal food and it was super adorable. When he screws up - which of course he did - Karina calls him on it and he apologizes and fixes it.

But beyond the relationship Karina and her anxiety and her future is what I loved about this book. She has a lot of anxiety and Counting Down With You refers to both the countdown to when her parents come back home and when she starts to have anxiety she counts down from town (which was really effective in audiobook format). I thought that the portrayal was really wonderfully done and there was on page discussion of how she was trying to manage it. Her relationship with her parents and her grandmother made me emotional more than a few times and wow did I love her grandmother so much.
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I don't have words for how much I loved Counting Down with You. It's a book that left my heart aching. Not only am I going to forever read books with the fake dating trope, but Bhuiyan's debut is about the struggle to choose our own future, to choose ourselves. To realize we don't have to fight alone. And to find the strength within ourselves. Counting Down with You exists on multiple planes. It has plenty of swoony fake dating scenes, precious sibling moments, and tons of friendship goals.

Yet at the same time, it's an examination of the stigma of mental health, about the parental and cultural expectations that can leave us feeling trapped, and the struggle to see our own path. Knowing the struggles and sacrifices of our parents leave scars and unfilled expectations, lingering silences and unspoken strong words. But at the same time realizing that only we will know everything we've given up, the ways we are living paper versions of ourselves which are hanging on to clotheslines in the wind.
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Thank you to Inkyard Press (via NetGalley) for the ARC!

Content warnings: anxiety attacks (on the page), verbal and psychological abuse from parents

Karina Ahmed is everything a parent should want: intelligent, successful in school, respectful of her elders and well-behaved. Yet somehow she still manages to disappoint her conservative Bangladeshi-Muslim parents. Her parents want her to be a doctor and major in biology in college. She’s only a junior in high school, but Karina has her heart set on studying English, but she’s afraid of disappointing her parents, so she hasn’t told them.

Alistair Clyde is the junior class resident bad boy. Also known as Ace. He’s rich, has an attitude, and keeps to himself for the most part. He’s handsome, but unattainable, and is hardly on Karina’s radar until their English teacher asks Karina to tutor Ace. Karina only agrees because her parents are out of the country on a month-long trip to Bangladesh. Otherwise, they’d never agree to her spending time alone with a white boy, even in an academic setting.

Things are going fine, and Karina is even starting to enjoy studying with Ace when he drops a bomb during a family dinner at his house: Ace tells his family they’re dating. Karina isn’t sure why he tells them this, and Ace is being evasive, but Karina agrees to go along with it. But she has to decide if she’s going to stop everything before her parents come home from Bangladesh, or if, maybe, she’s going to give herself a chance at happiness.

* * * * * 
Oh my. This BOOK! I read most of it in a day, and there is so much going on here! It is such a layered story and the characters are SO well developed. I think I may need to just list everything I loved because it’s going to be hard to write a coherent, flowing review. There is just so much I loved about this book!!! I can’t talk about all of it without spoiling the whole book, so be warned

Fake dating. Fake dating is one of my absolute FAVORITE tropes ever, so I knew I was going to love that. I always cackle when the characters think they’re not going to develop real feelings for each other even when their friends know the truth. The trope is done so well here, and Karina and Ace communicate so well with each other, even when they are still faking it. They set boundaries, apologize when they cross those boundaries, and those skills translate when they start dating for real.

Anxiety. Karina has anxiety. She is self-diagnosed because mental health isn’t really something that’s discussed in her family. She’s come up with coping methods, like counting down from ten to one (part of where the title comes from), to calm herself down when she feels too anxious. Karina’s anxiety is real, and it’s not glossed over. It affects her life in real ways, and she tries her best to handle it. When Karina and Ace become closer, he notices her tells, and comforts her when she’s anxious. He talks her through several anxiety attacks and never belittles her or dismisses how she feels. He offers support when she wants it, and backs off when she doesn’t. As an anxious person myself, who is not “officially” diagnosed, I really like how Karina’s anxiety was handled with such care, especially because it can be so isolating. Karina felt like it was something she had to handle by herself, but Ace came along and offered his help when she wanted it 

Friends. Karina’s best friends, Cora and Nandini, are there for her through everything. All three girls are the children of immigrants, and share some common experiences because of this. They support each other through everything, and understand each other in ways that non-second generation Americans just don’t. But they also understand that there are things they don’t get, too. Karina’s parents are much more conservative than either Cora or Nandini’s are. They know sometimes all they can do is be there for her while she tries to figure out if her happiness or making her parents is more important. And their relentless support is a rock for Karina. I really loved how their friendship was portrayed on the page. I’ve read other YA books where once the love interest is introduced, the best friends kind of get shuffled off to the side. But the relationship between these three girls never falters, even through rough patches. They are fiercely loyal to each other, and are the epitome of teenage girl friendship

Dadu. Karina’s grandmother! Oh I love her so much!!! She is Karina’s quiet cheerleader, the one family member who Karina opens up to and who supports Karina unconditionally. Karina confides in her about her dreams to study English in college and her worries about disappointing her parents. Dadu, who suffered the loss of a daughter many many years ago, wants Karina to follow her dreams and is much more supportive than Karina’s own parents. The scene at the end of the book where she stands up with Karina to her son and daughter-in-law about how they have treated Karina had me in tears.

Karina + Ace. *SIGH* This relationship is so sweet! Even before they start dating for real, Karina and Ace’s dynamic is so cute. They are playful and sarcastic with each other, which, as a Super Sarcastic person myself, is my favorite! Karina finds herself unintentionally testing boundaries with him and becoming comfortable teasing him way faster than she expected. Also, their communication skills! Adults could learn from them!!! They don’t shy away from things that grown adults have trouble talking about! Karina sets boundaries with Ace because of her traditional upbringing. She has to explain to Ace that because her parents are conservative Muslims, she doesn’t have the same freedoms as he, a rich white boy, does. And he listens to her. He respects the rules she has to follow. He respects the fact that their relationship, after they decide to do things for real, will have to be a secret from her parents. But my favorite thing is that they both help each other grow. Both of them have issues with their families, and although they seem very different from the outside, both require Karina and Ace to confront their families about feeling pressured to make certain choices to make their parents happy. They build each other up and make each other brave so that both of them have the confidence to talk to their families and speak their minds. 

The poetry. I absolutely LOVED Karina’s poetry interspersed throughout the story. It was so gorgeous and really gave great insight into her state of mind. And Unshakeable was so beautiful, especially when she was able to finish it. And don’t even get me started on Ace’s poem!!!! I burst into tears at the end of that, so I’m not even surprised Karina had to run from the classroom.
Honestly I was getting super 10 Things I Hate About You vibes throughout this whole book, so I definitely need to watch that again, because it’s one of my favorite movies EVER.

COUNTING DOWN WITH YOU releases May 4th, so please join me in pre-ordering this wonderful, swoony, funny, beautiful debut to support Tashie Bhuiyan. If you can’t do that, request it at your library. Either way, get it into your hands because you do NOT want to miss this book!
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Karina has always appreciated the sacrifices her parents made when they left Bangladesh for America. Because of all they had done and continued to do for her, she tried to be the model daughter. She attended a STEM school, although math and science were difficult for her. She joined the pre-med society and went along with their plan for her to become a doctor, even though this was not her dream. Left for a month with her grandmother while her parents visited family in Bangladesh, Karina got to a taste of freedom, and she wasn't sure she would be able to be the model daughter any longer. 

I really felt for Karina as she struggled with trying to fulfill her parents' dreams, while also being true to herself. She finally had a real opportunity to exercise her autonomy, and it was an eye-opening experience for her. She learned a lot about the choices she had been making, but also came to understand some things about her parents. The entire process was not an easy one for her, but it had a positive outcome. 

The inner conflict Karina was dealing with was ever present in the story, but it was interspersed with a lot of joy. Here are a some things that delighted me as I read Counting Down to You:

1. Karina's grandmother Dadu was an absolute dream. You must understand how much I loved my Oma, and I adore grandparents in books. Dadu was a stellar example of why we cherish our grandparents so much. She was the embodiment of love. She gave support and encouragement to Karina and always seemed to know how to soothe her wounds. She was probably one of my favorite characters in the whole book, if I am being honest. 

2. Karina's friends also provided her with a solid support system. Though they didn't necessarily agree with her entertaining her parents every demand, they went along with it and were always available for venting or a warm hug. 

3. Fake dating is a trope I never tire of, and Bhuiyan did a great job with it. There were all those fun fake-date type things we have grown to expect, and I loved watching those sparks fly between the couple and then finally ignite. The romance between Ace and Karina was precious, and I was really pulling for them. 

4. Karina and her brother Samir shared a great relationship. Though he sometimes had loose lips, he was there for Karina, when their parents were being extra hard on her. The affection they shared was obvious, and I just loved it. 

5. Ace was not a bad boy at all. In fact, he was a darling sweetheart of a boy, who owned my heart. Seriously, he bought her books, many, many books. 😍

Overall: Bhuiyan did a beautiful job bringing me into Karina's life. I appreciated her journey, was grateful for her stupendous support system, and adored the adorable romance.
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One of my favourite YA books I have read this year and this is one that I will add to my middle grade classroom.  A story about a teen girl who is torn between doing what is "right" by her family, or doing what she wants.  Her best friends are amazing characters who support her no matter what, but are also willing to share their own opinions.  Her grandmother was the sweetest and one of my favourite characters.  I found myself obsessed with the countdown and wanted Karina to succeed.  

As an asian child growing up, it would have been wonderful to read about young girls who go through similar expectations and pressures at home, while trying to fit in with her friends.  

Thank you Tashie for a beautiful story and I look forward to your future works.
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Counting Down With You centers Karina Ahmed, a 16 year old high school teen who is desperately trying to pretend she cares about becoming a doctor to please her parents all while suppressing her own desire to major in English in college. So when her parents go on a one-month trip to Bangladesh in the middle of the school year, Karina and her brother, Samir, are left alone with their super chill grandmother, which brings nothing but relief to Karina.

Unfortunately, she can’t seem to catch a break as her English teacher assigns her to tutor Alistair (better known as Ace to everyone) Clyde, the loner “bad boy” after school every day until he gets his grades up. Her apprehension is only exacerbated by the fact that there’s a million rumors flying around about Ace, especially considering he cuts class regularly. Ace skips the first day of their tutoring session but Karina covers for him the next day when prompted by their English teacher, which starts their slightly awkward friendship.

Ace doesn’t want his dad to know that he’s being tutored, so when he’s at risk of being caught, he lies and says Karina is his girlfriend, which instigates their fake-dating.

friends!
Karina has two best friends, Nandini and Cora, both of whom understand her family situation and are amazingly supportive through everything she endures. Even though their home life and parents are a lot less conservative than hers, they never push her to do anything when they know she can’t, and they even threaten Ace a few times.

dadu!
Dadu is Karina’s grandmother, and she’s the one who takes care of Karina and Samir while their parents are in Bangladesh. Dadu’s more supportive than anyone else in the family, and it’s only to her that Karina feels safe confiding in. She even lets Karina skip school when she doesn’t want to go, which my grandmother would never let me do. She doesn’t prod when Ace rings their doorbell, or when Karina comes home late.

the ~romance~
First of all, Ace is the only valid white boy I’ve ever seen.

I know girls often don’t even get the bare minimum from their boyfriends, but fake-boyfriend Ace goes above and beyond, buying her a shit ton of books, remembering her coffee order when even Cora and Nandini don’t know, and remembers her favorite dessert at the bakery they begin to frequent.

Genuinely, I have nothing problematic to pick on, and I’m critical as hell.

final thoughts
I’ve read many many many South Asian-American contemporaries, but I think this was by far the most relatable and “accurate” with regards to my experiences. Tashie Bhuiyan does a wonderful job breaking the stereotypical brown-girl-meets-white-boy-and-starts-hating-her-culture story. High school was nothing short of a hellhole for me with my strict family, and the double standard when it comes to sons is unfortunately true and it sucks, but it’s relieving to see that it wasn’t just my experience.

Even at the end of the book, Karina doesn’t tell her parents about Ace, and from what I could tell, she’s waiting until college (or whenever she’s finally out of the house) to say anything about it. It’s funny that we’re in the same boat despite me not being in high school anymore because I’m waiting until I’m out of the house to tell my mom about my partner too LOL.

Overall, this book has once again proven that we need more gen z writers in YA. 5/5.
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LOVE!!!! love love love love. I'm so proud of Tashie and I'm so excited to read more from her! I've been following her on Twitter for a while now and I'm always so intrigued by what she's working on.
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If I had to sum up this book in one word, I would say it is perfection. I came into this book with high expectations and this book not only met them, but just crossed them. Counting Down With You made me experience a rollercoaster of emotions and it just touched my heart. So many of Karina's experiences reminded me of my own. Even her friend group felt freakishly similar to mine. And then there's Ace; he might be the most perfect bad boy character ever written. But I wouldn't call him bad; more so rebellious. He's also such a funny guy and has such a good heart. The fact that he instantly agreed to buy Karina books in exchange for fake dating him? Like hello? Where can I find a boy like this? And Karina...she's the type of girl I would love to be friends with. I see a lot of myself in her and maybe that's why I grew to love her so quickly.

Counting Down With You is amazing and Tashie Bhuiyan has written the perfect book.
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Karina suddenly finds herself with a new sense of freedom she doesn't know how to navigate. When her parents leave for a month long vacation, how can Karina suddenly feel comfortable breaking the strict rules engrained in her from childhood? Although she appreciates her culture and religion, Karina feels like she has to fit into a specific mold she is not sure is the mold for her. 

When Karina begins to tutor the school's resident bad boy Alistair Clyde, she finds herself in a book-trope-come-to-life fake dating situation. As she is now forced to navigate a web of feelings and secrets, she begins to mold herself into the person she wants to be through the help of her crazy group of friends and her ever patient Dadu. 

I appreciated the conversation on anxiety and the Own-Voice Bangladesh/ Muslim representation. Although many different types of experiences exist and Karina's does not represent all of the community, I think bringing to light at least one experience is the first step. There is a mold that needs to be broken and I think this novel did an excellent job of demonstrating that. I do wish Karina discussed the differences between culture and religion a little more in depth. However I think there are a lot of young Bangladeshi teenagers who will very much appreciated seeing themselves represented in a book. I sure wish I read this when I was younger!
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a lot of things annoyed me but the way the Muslim aspect of this book was handled-

i am rage🙂


this was my first Muslim rep book and the disappointment and frustration im feeling is unfathomable and i was so excited ughhhh

okay, but before i get into the negatives and start ranting, i'll say the good stuff:

-the anxiety rep in here and how the main character dealt with it was pretty good.
-how the MC fought for what degree she wanted to pursue was amazing. parents should never be forcing their child to do what something they dont want to do.
-the sibling relationship was sweet.
-this was a pretty quick read.

thats it.

and i was actually loving this in the beginning.😭 all my highlights literally showed my happiness at how the MC being Muslim was incorporated into this book. all the arabic words, her praying, other religious mentions-

then there was the MC dealing with anxiety and the pressure her parents put on her, and i felt bad for her. she was dealing with so much and was so scared to speak up about not wanting to be a doctor. her parents were absolutely ruthless when it came to discussing a change in career paths, they just went ahead and chose her future for her and i despised them.

but of course what happens next? the white boy comes into her life teaching her to be stronger, believe in herself (etc) and brings her happiness

....

*silence*

it's not even that it was a white boy bringing her happiness that got me annoyed, but how the parents were villainized when it came to religion (but i understand them looking like villains when it came to not allowing her to pursue an English major -- that made sense) and that of course it was the white boy who saved her from the pain and sadness she was feeling.

literally what pisses me off so much is that she'd constantly complain of the things her parents would forbid her from doing that you know, are because it's not allowed in Islam??? like i totally am with the main character when it came to her parents not allowing her to pursue the career she wants. parents 100% should not be doing that, it's really messed up, especially with the pressure put on their child. they really should just be happy with what their kid wants to grow up to be, and that's the one thing i disliked about her parents.

other than that--what the hell?? the MC constantly makes out her parents to be the bad guys for other stuff, when that's not even true ohmygod. for one thing, you aren't supposed to date guys/have boyfriends/kiss the opposite gender in Islam. It's not that her parents are evil and do this as a personal attack, its haram (forbidden). Yet the main character here literally is like "i want happiness, why cant they let me have be with him" -- girl, im with you about wanting to find happiness with the job, but you know...shouldn't you be faithful to your religion and understand that it's not allowed to date so your parents are right to tell you it's forbidden?? i am confusion. and im the same age as this girl and i know this. i dont hate on my parents???

i obviously understand that this was marketed as fake-dating trope, so im not surprised with how some of the things turned out, and she can go ahead and date the guy, but it just really makes me angry me that the main character makes her parents look evil for telling her that she isn't allowed to date? *sigh*

okay, but all of that i just said -- maybe some wont mind it, it's probably just something only i and some others would be annoyed with. i just feel like if you're gonna write about a Muslim character, don't break that rule and cast the parents in a bad light?? idk. either way, don't make out your parents to be evil because they won't let you date. and it's not even something that we need to be pitied for or looked at in horror, like what the other characters in this book did when she told them. it's part of what we've learned in our religion, so respect it.

i swear, i feel like this book was trying to push the idea that all Muslim parents are strict to this degree and are harsh. it's in no way like that. maybe some are, but the same could be said with any other race/religion -- it's just that with Muslim rep books (and *cough* Netlfix shows), the parents are for the most part portrayed as villains.

and yes, i saw that the MC would constantly say that she knows her religion isn't bad, she knows her parents aren't evil, but her actions and what she'd say/do after... she says she understands but she would still complain about them the next few pages, saying how they're unfair?? she'd be so bitter about it and then she breaks said rules😐

but again, one thing I did love was seeing the MC go against her parents when it came to doing the degree she wanted and not what they wanted. definitely a lot of people can relate with being forced to become a doctor, engineer, or lawyer. im thankful that my parents have never pushed me to become something i dont want to be.

i just hate what this book implies. i hate that people who will read this may think that all Muslim parents are controlling and cruel to their children. i hate that some may even pity us for some of this. just no. i can tell you that im proud to be a Muslim and proud of my religion. i don't think any of the rules/what we're forbidden to do is harsh at all. it makes complete sense in my eyes and i love my parents. i love everything about Islam.

now let's get to the love interest. I DESPISE Ace with every ounce of my being. he's legit the typical white bad boy who's secretly a softie inside once you get to know him. i do not care about him. He's so cheesy and im all here for the cheesiness BUT NOT THIS. so many cringey scenes and i did not see the chemistry between the two at all. sure, they had kinda similar situations when it came to their families, but like?? thats it?? i dont like either of them, but especially the main character.

i seriously think in general, if an author is going to incorporate religion into a YA contemporary, then you should actually follow through with the religion?? bc if you're not going to do that, then literally what's the point-

and if you're going to end up casting the religion in a negative light, then again...what's the point?? unless you're just trying to make others think badly on said religion?? Whether it's Christianity, Muslim, Hinduism, Judaism, etc -- follow through on those teachings. dont bother writing about a religious character in a book if you're not even going to follow through on some of the rules and villainize the parents. thankfully at least the MC would eat halal food, occasionaly pray, and understood that getting drunk was haram. but the dating and kissing, casting her parents as evil in those aspects...no🤚

and it's sad, because the author is Muslim so i thought it'd actually follow through on that. like the author probably didn't mean to show Islam in a bad way, but that's how it looked like to me. i think that maybe non-Muslims or people who aren't really familiar with Islam will probably like this book, though.

i saw in other reviews that the Bangali rep was done poorly too -- im not Bangali, so i cant say anything bc i wouldn't know, but thats so sad it wasn't done well either :(

anyways, im not going to waste any more of my time with this book. all i've gained from this is that i should never trust books with Muslim reps without having first read reviews by Muslims themselves. i shouldn't have had high expectations🤡


Many thanks to Inkyard Press for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!! <33
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This debut YA is so heart-warming, romantic, and fast-paced—I devoured it in a single day! Bhuiyan has created characters that will linger in your mind for years, and the representation in this story will give many teens a romance that makes them feel seen. I can't wait for everyone to fall in love with Karina and Ace in May!
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A sweet fake-dating story about complicated relationships with family, cultural differences, anxiety, and navigating how to get what you want in the world. Ace and Karina's relationship developed naturally and compellingly. Good for fans of Sandhya Menon and Gloria Chao.
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Writing this review will truly hurt every fiber in my being, but I simply cannot say I recommend this book at all. My biggest issue with this book is the Muslim representation. For simplicity's sake, until I can cohesively put my thoughts together, the representation is deeply offensive and the author didn't draw the lines between religion, culture, and the main character's personal life clearly. They blurred together and it was an offensive and jarring experience to read. 

The romance was cute and I liked the anxiety rep.

Full review to come.
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Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read an ARC of this fun YA romance! 

Counting Down With You is the story of Karina, a Bangladeshi-American Muslim teenager who has been trying hard her whole life to fit into the idea that her parents have of what her life should be, even though she wants to follow a different path. When she starts tutoring Ace, a so-called "bad boy," things get a bit out of hand when he tells his family that he and Karina are dating. Karina's parents are out of the country for 28 days, and Karina has to figure out what she truly wants from Ace and from her life before they come back. 

I thought this was a very fun and touching YA romance. I enjoyed learning about Karina's culture and her internal struggles as she tries to find her own place in the world. I especially enjoyed watching Karina's friendships with her two best female friends, as well as her relationship with her brother. The one thing that bothered me a bit, though, was Ace, the male romantic lead. He just seemed a bit unrealistically kind and selfless, especially when Karina was stringing him along quite a bit. He constantly looks out for her and tries to help her in every way, and I just couldn't take that level of sweetness after a while. I don't mind a sweet romance, but I felt like the romance parts were just a bit repetitive and overdone in this particular story. 

Overall, a good read, and I would recommend it to fans of contemporary YA romance!
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Karina just wants to please her parents—even if it means ignoring her dreams to be an English major in college. When they leave for a trip to visit family in Bangladesh for a month, Karina stays with her grandmother, allowing her at least a little more freedom than she usually has. Suddenly her world is flipped upside down when her teacher asks her to tutor the school’s “bad boy”, Ace. Karina isn’t thrilled about it, but she doesn’t want to disappoint her teacher. 

One day, Ace tells his family that he and Karina are fake-dating, and after spending almost a month together, Karina has to deal with the fact that her fake-dating scenario is turning into real feelings, as she learns more about this so-called bad boy who believes in her and sees in her what she’s never seen in herself. She must decide, however, whether or not she has the courage to talk to her parents about being her own person. 

I really enjoyed this book. And can we just talk about the title?! I didn’t think much of it at first, since each chapter is a countdown until her parents get home and the only time she has to be somewhat free completely vanishes. But with the anxiety rep in the book, Karina is constantly counting down from ten throughout the book, and soon, Ace becomes her rock, grounding her when she’s feeling anxious. The title seems to take on a whole new meaning. 

I loved how the book shows one girl’s experience having to brave going against familial expectations in order to be happy and live her own life. Even though this was never something I dealt with, I was able to fully experience it through Karina, as her thoughts and feelings were very well depicted. I loved the sense of urgency throughout the book. It was fast-paced and fun, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. All of the characters had their own story and personality. Karina and her brother’s relationship was one of my favorites to watch develop. 

I do wish that I got more of the “after” with Ace. It was set up pretty clearly that there was no way Karina would ever be able to tell her parents about Ace, between him being white and a boy. It was clear they’d have to hide it until they went off to college. And usually, I am against an epilogue because I hold on to hope for a sequel that will likely never happen. BUT unless there are already plans for that, I would have liked some closure, to have known where she ended up going to college. If she and Ace even made it until then. Did they end up at college together or thirty minutes apart? Did he do his piano thing or astronomy? 

Overall, fun book with some probably unrealistic, cheesy dialogue by a sixteen year old boy (which doesn’t bother me at all) and really great relationships and character development!
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