ARC Review: DIAL A FOR AUNTIES by Jesse Q Sutanto

Rating: ★★★★★

Summary: A hilariously quirky novel that is equal parts murder mystery, rom-com, and a celebration of mothers and daughters as well as a deep dive into Chinese-Indonesian culture, by debut author Jesse Q. Sutanto.

1 (accidental) murder
2 thousand wedding guests
3 (maybe) cursed generations
4 meddling Asian aunties to the rescue!

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 accidentally 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 their 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 cake 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?

It’s always the books I pick up randomly that end up surprising me. Reading Dial A For Aunties has been A RIDE and a delightful one at that.

To start, this book is not down to earth. It’s over the top ridiculous, humourous in an absurd way, you’ll have to suspend your disbelief at the scenes that unfold to truly enjoy the dark humour and satire. Besides, where’s the fun in holding onto reality while reading fiction? A book like Dial A For Aunties on that note. But if you’re looking for a book that makes sense or is focused on the crime, this is not the one.

Full time comedy, part time murder mystery with a tinge of romance, this book had me laughing out loud, even though there’s something really ridiculous and concerning happening on page. I couldn’t stop smiling or turning the pages at the bad decisions and near-caught moments, eager to find out how it wraps up and what other insanity is to ensue. Being entertained, I found myself not caring about it. Meddy’s thought process and commentary itself had me in hysterics.

❛Growing up, my cousins called me Meddlin’ Meddelin, which is why I never, ever meddle in anyone’s business, ever.❜

I loved loved loved Meddy’s relationship with her mother and aunts — the family dynamics (older and newer generation), the reluctance to work together but doing it anyway and the Asian-ness of it all. Meddy finds them stifling, like the “overbearing Asian aunties”, but they all come to her rescue even though they have clashes amongst themselves. Their interactions showed they would go to any lengths for their family, despite the sibling rivalry and banter. Fourth Aunt, in particular left me very amused. I could clearly see the unique relationship between Meddy and each of the aunts.

Asian readers would find the theme of independence, to stay with family or pursue your dreams, relatable. I also adored the author’s note included in the beginning, about representation and stereotypes — about how she and Meddy share the ability to speak English fluently while their parents speak broken English and are more comfortable in their mother tongue. It shows what they’ve given up so their children could live a better life and not their lack of education or intelligence. This same depiction of broken English can be seen in the story, and also used to crack some jokes, but eventually we see how much Meddy’s mom and aunts love her and how Meddy too realises it.

Portrayal of Chinese-Indonesian culture and learning about their traditions interested me a lot. The author did a wonderful job at intertwining her own cultural references in the story, especially about weddings.

❛Meddy, how can you say that? Your aunties are coming over, so late at night, coming to help us get rid of the body, and we don’t even offer them any food?❜

The romance is just there, to be honest. I like Nathan’s character and the flashbacks of his and Meddy’s relationship but he or their romance isn’t the spotlight here. It’s a small addition to the plot though I did root for them, second chance romance and all.

HIGHLY recommend Dial A For Aunties! If you need a good laugh about an Asian family trying to dispose a dead body while getting pulled into miserable, comical antics, then you should pick this up. You’re in for an entertaining read!

PS: This book is coming to Netflix!! I’m hyped!!!

Thank you Netgalley and Berkley Publishing for the ARC!

❛Whoever said “It’s as hard as herding cats” has obviously never tried to herd a group of Asian aunties.❜

Dial A For Aunties is out now.

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Buy it in the UK

37 thoughts on “ARC Review: DIAL A FOR AUNTIES by Jesse Q Sutanto”

  1. this sounds like everything i want when i need to relax and de-stress omg! be putting this on the sooner TBRs then. as usual gauri, you write great reviews!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lovely review! Based off what you said it’s giving me low-key Crazy Rich Asians vibes, which I love. This sounds like the perfect book to read over the summer and I’m hoping to read it soon 🤩

    Liked by 2 people

  3. love your review! i was on the fence about trying it out (would i like it? would it be too farfetched?) but your words about there being no need to hold onto reality while reading fiction convinced me to give it a read when i get the chance 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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