P. 17

            September 2021
 By BrittaNy amalfi
Tutoring Turns Into a Fake Dating Arrangement Between a Shy Bangladeshi Girl and the School’s Resident Bad Boy
Tashie Bhuiyan Tells the Story of Karina and Ace—Tutoring Pals Turned Fake Lovers, and the School is Raging with Rumours. Only Karina is Much More Wor- ried About Her Strict Parents Finding Out.
Counting Down With You is a heartfelt story about Karina Ahmed and Ace Clyde. After Karina begrudgingly agrees to tutor Ace in English, things take a strange turn when Ace decides to put on this facade they’re dating. A little fake relationship never hurt anyone, right? Not so fast. For Karina, her whole life has been a constant battle of living up to her strict parent’s expec- tations. With their assumptions that she will go on to become a doctor, Karina lives in continuous anxiety of disappointing them. Karina wants freedom: to pursue what she wants and be who she is—or at least, find out who she is.
Since Karina’s parents are away for 28 days, Karina allows herself to step out of her comfort zone just a tad. But wearing crop tops and staying out past curfew has nothing on Ace’s commit- ment to their fake relationship. She knows her parents would
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never approve and fears what will happen if they find out. Only, the more time she spends with Ace, and the more Karina gets to know him; she learns that the end of this “fake” relationship might be more complicated than she imagines.
A Heart Warming Contempo- rary That Tugs On Your Heart Strings As You’re Transported Back To Your First High School Romance
Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan was just the fresh contemporary romance that I needed to get out of my reading slump. I was drawn to this book as soon as I heard “fake dating.” I mean, what more do you need? But what kept my attention was how fleshed out and flawed every character in this story is. Some writers may keep the depth on the main character, but not Bhu- iyan. Not only were Karina and Ace real and flawed characters, but so were other characters like Cora, Nandini, Dadu, and Samir. Each character brought some- thing to the table, whether it was the strong bond of friendship or comedic relief, they all had a part to play in this story, and all had an important role in Karina’s life.
Karina was an excellent main character. I loved how Bhuiyan didn’t hold back when writing about Karina’s anxiety and how she copes with it throughout the
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story. The anxiety representation gives teenagers and adults the idea that plenty of people deal with this real issue differently and how it affects them in different ways. Learning about the Bangla- desh culture was also an essential
part of this story because we see how the norms in Karina’s life were different from others, like her friends and even Ace.
Karina and Ace’s relationship was the strong focal point of this story, and I loved every minute of it. When Karina was asked to tutor the school’s resident bad boy, I was rooting for them from the start. As we learned more about Ace and his home life, I felt an even deeper empathy for him as he navigates his way through the high school years. The way Ace treated Karina was just im- maculate and had me wishing all boys had the charm of Ace Clyde.
Whereas it wasn’t the story’s focal point, the friendship be- tween Karina, Nandini, and Cora
is terrific. Every high schooler would long for the three teenag- ers’ friendship during those tough adolescent years. In YA, it’s great to see such strong friendships be- cause it shows that even the main character needs a little help from their friends. Nandini and Cora are there for Karina at every turn, and their support and en- couragement never falters. These three aren’t just friends; they are a family.
Counting Down With You was a fun, fresh contemporary read that didn’t hold back when it comes to what teenagers face through- out their daily lives. Karina, Ace, and the whole crew of characters give readers a great story that will have them laughing, crying, and, not to mention, swooning.
Book of the Month:
Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan
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