Blog Tour Review: Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan

Hello everyone! Today is my blog tour stop for Counting Down With You, the debut novel of Tashie Bhuiyan, and I am so excited! To know more about the blog tour and read other bloggers’ reviews on the tour, click here. A HUGE THANKS to Caffeine Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book as part of the blog tour.

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?

About The Book:

Genre: young adult, contemporary, romance

Diversity tags: author of color (bangladeshi american); poc representation (Bangladeshi-american mc; black, indian, and chinese side characters); religion representation (muslim mc); lgbtq+ representation; mental health representation (mc with anxiety)

Publication date: 04 May 2021

Publisher: HarperCollins

Cover: Samya Arif (artist), Gigi Lau (art direction)

Trigger Warnings: In-depth discussions of mental health (specifically anxiety) and mentions of parental abuse (emotional and psychological)

My review is free of spoilers and is honest and unbiased.

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 hopes to change the world, one book at a time.

She loves writing stories about girls with wild hearts, boys who wear rings, and gaining agency through growth.

When she’s not doing that, she can be found in a Chipotle or bookstore, insisting 2010 is the best year in cinematic history. (Read: Tangled and Inception.)

My Review:

Counting Down With You is in essence a romance novel, but it deals with vital issues such as anxiety and parental pressure.

Karina, our protagonist, suffers from anxiety and it doesn’t help that she has overbearing parents, who are extremely strict and want her to become a doctor, while Karina clearly has a love for literature. 

The book was a roller coaster ride of emotions. I smiled while reading the cute moments between Karina and Ace. I got frustrated and was at times horrified at Karina’s parents’ treatment of her. I even felt anxious for Karina whenever her parents rebuked her. Her parents reminded me of similar people who stifle their kids’ dreams and verbally abuse them if they step a toe out of line. Karina’s suffocating life was agonizing to read about. Her parents didn’t even have a clue about her anxiety and she had to find coping mechanisms on her own, which is realistic but also difficult to read about. Her feelings of resentment towards her brother, the myriad emotions she felt about her parents were befitting.

I loved the bond Karina had with her Dadu(paternal grandmother). Dadu’s unyielding support and unconditional love and understanding for Karina were heartwarming. Everyone deserves to have a grandmother like Dadu. Even Samir, Karina’s brother, was understanding of Karina’s situation despite often being clueless and impulsive. I also may have found a new book boyfriend. Alistair aka Ace was such a wonderful person. He was kind, made mistakes but was keen to learn from them, and most importantly, respected Karina’s boundaries. I loved the friendship between Cora, Nandini, and Karina too.

In this song, I hear everything he thinks of me. I’m a dichotomy between quiet and bold, between soft and brave.

The thing that delighted me while reading the book was the mention of food. Being a Bengali myself, but of Indian nationality, I was so glad to see sweets such as Rosogolla and food such as posto being mentioned. I was also pleasantly surprised to find some of my favorite singers such as Sarah Close and Harry Styles finding a mention in the book. I also felt that Karina’s anxiety was aptly portrayed, esp. the way it was triggered by a slight out-of-the-ordinary occurrence, such as an unexpected phone call from her parents. 

The only thing that bothered me was Karina’s parents. They were too abusive and Karina often justified it by treating it as their love for her, when it was clearly damaging to her self-worth and happiness. Of course, the portrayal was very realistic, but it still was unsettling to read.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading the book and think it was a highly impressive debut novel. I can’t wait to read more books by Tashie Bhuiyan!

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Have you read Counting Down With You yet? Or any other book with mental health representation? Let me know your thoughts below!

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