First off, thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review. I really am not a romance reader by any means, but when I first heard of Dial A for Aunties, I just knew I had to pick it up! I was not only so excited for a chance to read a debut by Chinese-Indonesian author Jesse Q. Sutanto, but I was also so excited by its hilarious, outrageous description.
Quick synopsis: This story follows the misadventures of Meddy, a photographer who works with her mom and three aunts in their wedding service company. When she accidentally kills her date on a blind date gone wrong, the four aunties must figure out to help Meddy cover her tracks, all while working the biggest wedding of their careers at an upscale Californian hotel for a wildly rich family (think of the book/movie Crazy Rich Asians –that rich). Meanwhile, a run-in with Meddy’s old flame may put their chances at covering this crime at risk.
Part romance, and part contemporary fiction, this book had me quite literally laughing out loud! Meddy and her aunties had me cracking up, while also totally rooting for them despite an accidental murder. And while the story was often lighthearted and funny, it did touch on some more serious topics, such as Meddy’s mom and aunties’ immigration experience. The thing I probably connected with the most was Meddy’s identity struggles she faced growing up with her Chinese-Indonesian family who immigrated to the U.S., while she was raised there. While my family experience was definitely different than hers, I could empathize with her feelings of feeling on the outside at times when it comes to racial identity.
Additionally, I loved Meddy’s journey of self-discovery. She was such a relatable leading lady, and I definitely recognized a bit of myself in her as she tries to discover herself and do what makes her happiest, not just what makes her mom/aunties happy. But I so admired how she cares so deeply for her family, and they obviously feel the same about her — enough to cover up an accidental murder!
I thought the romance element to this book was so sweet (fans of steamy romances, beware — this one is definitely sweet, not steamy). It was a big part of the book, but not overwhelmingly so, as I think the themes of family and self acceptance were much more prominent. But the romance was a wonderful addition to this zany, wildly surprising adventure. It read like a rom-com and touched on coming into your own while recognizing the importance of family. And of course, it was so wonderful to see a lead who looks like me!
This book’s pub day is April 27th. I totally recommend giving this wonderful debut a read!