Thank you Inkyard Press and Netgalley for an early opportunity to read Tashie Bhuiyan's fantastic debut Counting Down With You.
TL;DR for the BUY IT NOW crowd: you should buy this book (and support a local indie bookstore if you can!) if you love strong friendship, complicated family dynamics, an nerdy enemies to lovers ft. leather jackets and classic literature.
If you need a little more convincing...
I don't read a ton of contemporary, but there are a few tropes I can never resist--fake dating is one of them. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a "bad" boy in need of a fake girlfriend will fall in love with her and she'll NEVER see it coming. It's a cozy trope, familiar and homey, and it hasn't gotten old yet.
The stakes are very personal in Counting Down with you, from the anxiety rep (as a self crowned anxiety queen I loved this aspect) to the family dynamics. All of it was very emotional but beautifully cast in that first, fresh breath of freedom. Tashie really captured those final moments of being fully under your parent's control--when you've somewhat grown into yourself and know enough about who you want to become to make your own choices, but still have to ask permission for things.
I anticipate there will be reviews that knock the slang--there is a lot of it--but I think it really marks it as a book for the audience/generation it was written for. It has a consistent voice and is very clearly written for today's teens, exactly as it should be.
I have a soft spot in my heart for this book. It felt like time traveling--even though no hot guys ever wanted to fake date me and the way we spoke in high school sounded different--back to a period in my life where I felt out of control and afraid to take flight. I think it will mean a lot to the teen readers in your life, for whom you should definitely pick it up.
Check out our podcast interview with the author: