Book Review — Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto (2021)

Recently, I have been longing to read books that bring happiness to me. Thus, I choose to read “Dial A For Aunties” written by Jesse. Frankly, I know about this book from my book club friends, they said that this book is extremely entertaining. It also makes them laugh all the time. Then those statements make me more interested to read the book.

Be careful, spoiler alert!

image source: thenerddaily

There are some things that I want to highlight from this gorgeous novel.

First of all, thank you so much Kak Jesse for writing such a wonderful story. Indonesia is very proud to have such a talented and inspiring writer as you. I really am entertained by every page that she writes. It is true though, I laugh all the time like crazy during the reading process. I can say that yours is one of the best rom-com slightly thriller novels that I have ever read.

I am amazed that Kak Jesse can write a rom-com story with a slight thriller beautifully since, all this time it is rare to find a story of romance-comedy and thriller at once. It must be hard to combine all these elements. At first, when I read the synopsis, I really want to find out how someone can kill her blind date accidentally? I couldn’t imagine what happens next!

Secondly, I feel very close and relate to the characters’ families and culture. It might be because the characters presented in the story are Chinese-Indonesians. They have the same culture as me, an Indonesian. We love to welcome guests with food and drinks, we respect parents, we still live with our parents even if we’re in our 20s, we have a love-hate relationship with our aunts and uncles, the family is chaotic “in a good way” whenever we are together, the family helps each other, and so on.

The element that makes everything realistic is the broken English spoken by the Aunties. You know that sometimes immigrants have problems in talking, speaking, and understanding a foreign language. Here, the Aunties frequently say something that they don’t mean lol. Like “My body is delicious” and Ma who texting Jack about Meddy’s favorite food, eggplants, and Jack perceives the eggplant as another thing :D

There are a lot of funny scenes, but the funniest scene that I found is when Meddy and her Ma were waiting for the Aunties to help them move the dead body to the Fourth Aunt home, Ma asked Meddy to peel the mangoes and prepare the tea for the Aunties lol. It is Asian tradition that we have to welcome our guests with food and drinks. But, looking at the situation it wasn’t the time to prepare such a thing haha.

Thirdly, I can see the main character’s (Meddy) development very clearly. From the beginning of the scene, I thought Meddy was always afraid to make her own decision. She didn’t dare to speak up to her Ma and Aunties about her plan. She tried to be a nice and perfect girl for them. Because her Ma and Aunties ever mentioned that their sons and daughters are in the end leaving them behind, and they don’t want Meddy to do the same. So, based on their statements Meddy feels that it’s the best decision if she stays with them. Meddy’s case is like a typical “Asian children problem” because, we feel responsible to take care of our parents’ happiness all of our lives.

At the end of the story, after Meddy puts herself in big trouble for the first time in her life she is finally able to speak up and solve the problem in her own way. She didn’t depend on her Aunties, especially Big Aunt who is usually take lead on everything in the family nor Nathan. Meddy is glowed up!

Besides the rich issues presented in the novel about how immigrants families live in the United States and also the comedy, I would like to deliver my opinion about a few lack aspects in the novel.

I think the ending story is too rush, it will be better if the writer gives a little longer process for the ending. So the ending will be more natural and smooth. Furthermore, in my opinion, Nathan’s character is rather ‘unrealistic’, he is too good to be true and I’m also confused. How could Nathan hastily open up to Meddy as soon as they meet after 3 years? Even after Meddy almost messed up his dream career? I need more explanation for their relationship.

But anyway, I am so proud that finally, Asian literature is getting more recognized in mainstream literature. Also, this novel will be out as a movie on Netflix soon! Can’t wait to see the movie version. From this novel, I hope Asian literature will be more known worldwide, and eventually, the voiceless voices will be heard.