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Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Sutanto Book Review

A recent release from this year, this book jumped out at me at the book store because of its funky pop-art inspired cover and it had an interesting blurb that sounded like a light read I might enjoy so I started reading it – but then put it down at 50 pages for another book. Fast track a month or so, I picked it up again and managed to finish it in like 2 days! Thought I’d write a little review to explain my thoughts.

Goodreads Blurb:

When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is inadvertently shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working at an island resort on the California coastline. It’s the biggest job yet for the family wedding business—”Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!”—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie’s perfect buttercream flowers.

But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?


Rating: 4 out of 5.

This book was so unconventional and actually pretty funny! Although the book is slightly set up around a mystery, it isn’t a mystery/thriller at all but more of a hilarious family-led story that defies many genres. It definitely didn’t feel like a romance or a mystery but just a great humourous fiction novel.

In this book, we meet Meddy who studied photography but through some family pressure, ended up working as the wedding photographer for her family’s business. Each of her aunties and her mum plays a part in organising weddings and a huge one is in the works during this book. Prior to the wedding, she unfortunately accidentally killed her blind date that her mother set her up with (such a weird, crazy but somehow hilarious occurrence at the very beginning of the book). Not knowing what to do, she does what anyone might and calls her aunties for help. While preparing for the wedding, Mr Blind Date’s dead body is accidentally sent to the island location for the wedding with the cake and Meddy and her aunties have to hide and obscure what’s going on, while Meddy stumbles into an old romance from college that she wishes she had never broken off.

“You’re not a mess. You just kill by accident only. Bad luck. Can happen to anyone.”

― Jesse Sutanto, Dial A for Aunties

When I first started the novel, I got to about 50 pages and I was interested but quite whelmed. It wasn’t until I picked it up again and fully got into it that I couldn’t put it down because it was just so humourous and had a level of anticipation where I had to know what was going to happen. Meddy was the kind of character that was interesting but I wish had more courage and bravery. Part of her personality is that she has to show that she’s dedicated to her family, and leaving the confines of her mum and auntie is a big task. I found that I could really relate to that level of obligation that sometimes happens with family, when you feel like you’re left with no choice but to do what you don’t want to do, for the sake of family.

Her mum and aunties were such a cool bunch and had such intricate personalities that although Meddy literally calls them by descriptive counters (big aunty, fourth aunty), you could still differentiate them as different people. The depictions of the aunties felt so authentic, particularly when they wouldn’t stop bickering to the point that it got a little annoying and you could really empathise with all Meddy has to go through while working with them. The added touch of second chance romance was a surprise but didn’t hinder the story – it only added to the chaos that made this book midly stressful but entertaining nonetheless. I thought the love interest was okay but it felt odd that it looks like love at first sight for him and Meddy when I would’ve preferred a slower rekindled second chance romance. This would be where I wished the book almost had more pages for me to learn more about their relationship and their future.

The pacing felt quite fast for a 300 page novel and I really enjoyed Jesse Sutanto’s writing as well. I never felt too bored and the inclusion of other languages Meddy tries to speak was a nice touch that emphasises the differences in culture. Meddy’s heritage is a big part of the story and by the end, it really felt a bit like a coming-of-age tale where she needs to work up the courage to speak to her family honestly and work with them, rather than against them. It ended being such a wholesome novel and had so much drama that made me laugh throughout. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a bit of escapism with a ridiculous plot, funny cast and a little time to kill for this fast-paced story.

How would you define books that fit in the typical genre like Dial A for Aunties? And what did you think of this one if you’ve read it too?

Until next time,

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