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464 pages, Hardcover
First published May 4, 2021
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We’re about to enter some big emo hours, so hold on tight. Counting Down with You is the story of my heart, and it was written as a love letter to young brown girls. It wasn’t that long ago that I was a brown teenager, not that I really feel like the spitting image of an adult at twenty-one years old. The older I am, though, the more I realize that there is no “right” way to represent all of us, since we are not a monolith. We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences. However, when I set out to write this story, I chose to write it from a deeply personal place. The main character of this novel, Karina Ahmed, represents one experience—my experience—but she does not represent all. In this book, my goal was to always give her agency, and give her room to grow. This is undeniably a love story, but Karina is not waiting for a knight in shining armor to rescue her from the challenges of life. At the end of the day, this is her story, and these are her decisions. Just like her, we can’t rely on other people to come save us—we must be lionhearted on our own.
When I was younger, I often felt helpless. We don’t always have the freedom we seek, and it’s hard to rise up against our circumstances when we are young and have limited means to protect ourselves. But this is me telling you right now that it gets better. I know it’s hard to believe that, especially when the future seems so bleak, but it’s true. Someone gave me this advice at sixteen years old, and I hope to now impart it on you: stay as strong as you can. That’s all we can do. We might not be able to fight back or run away, but we can continue to believe in a better future. As you follow Karina on her journey, I hope you find a sense of belonging and understanding. Being seen is the most tender form of love, and I see you. I do.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If there is only one thing you take away from this book, let it be hope.
All the love,
- i didn’t go into this book expecting karina to be this perfect muslim. there’s no such thing as perfect muslim, God knows i’m not one either. but what really, really disappointed was how again and again the treatment of the main character’s parents towards her is blamed on the religion (how a fight about tv remote control where her parents end up taking her brother’s side turns into karina thinking about islam, for example). nowhere in islam does it say that men should be treated better than women, it has nothing to do with religion.
- a lot of asian or brown parents especially immigrants don’t view career outside medicine and engineering as a viable career. i promise you it’s not a religion thing! i also found it weird that both nandini and cora were also asian but somehow it was only karina whose parents didn’t approve of her career path.
- i live in a muslim household and i’m from a muslim country. i was never taught to be afraid of dogs and neither have i ever seen it happen anywhere. a lot of muslims love dogs and adopt them, so imagine my surprise when karina says we don’t like dogs. (we just can’t pray in the space where animals have been, it’s just a matter of hygiene.)
- i love fake dating but the reason for ace and karina fake dating was simply stupid. this is my problem with a lot of fake dating romance releases lately. romance authors realized that fake dating is a universally liked trope and now they don’t even try to find a good reason for making their characters fake date.
- it was painfully obvious that ace clyde was inspired from leather jackets misunderstood bad boy wattpad harry styles…
- it’s funny how karina says that she doesn’t need a white boy to save her over and over again but in the end she doesn’t learn to stand up for herself on her own, does she?
- didn’t really feel a lot of chemistry between ace and karina and there were a few corny lines that made me cringe but that’s not my main issue with this book.
- good anxiety rep.
- supportive group of friends.