Tashie Bhuiyan’s debut novel Counting Down with You is a heartwarming YA novel about Bengali teen Karina Ahmed and 28 life-changing days.
When Karina’s parents go back to Bangladesh for a month, she starts tutoring bad boy Ace Clyde. Before she knows it, she’s been roped into a scheme pretending to be his girlfriend (seriously on her parent’s no-no list). Hilarity, hijinks, and heart ensue.
We see Karina struggling with anxiety, conflicted over the weight of her parent’s expectations (they want her to be a doctor, she wants to be an English major but also wants to please her parents — hmm, sound familiar to anyone?), and figuring out whether, if, and how to put her own happiness first. And then of course there’s romance. But as charming as Karina and Ace’s blossoming relationship is, what I maybe loved most were Karina’s relationship with her Dadu (grandmother) and her two best friends Nandini and Cora. They all try to uplift and support, even when things go awry. And ultimately the big decision is not about Ace, it’s about Karina and her future. It’s an entirely charming and enjoyable read.
I want to leave you with a line from the author’s note at the beginning of the book which is as swoon-worthy as the song Ace writes for Karina: “Counting Down with You is the story of my heart, and it was written as a love letter to young brown girls.”