Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Published April 27th 2021 by Berkley
Age Range: Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Representation: Indonesian-Chinese cast
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?
Meddeline’s family has a curse: Every male in the family would leave one day. It didn’t matter when or why, they would inevitably move far away from the family. Refusing to play a part in this curse, Meddeline broke up with her college boyfriend who had a great opportunity elsewhere, and stayed by her aunts and Ma’s side for the past seven years.
Fate does its thing and Meddeline bumps into said college boyfriend who she had never really gotten over. It seemed like seven years didn’t even exist between them with how comfortable they were talking to one another. Nathan obviously didn’t forget his college love either.
The romance was really cute. As Meddeline tries to balance sneaking around with a dead body and conjuring up a plan to ensure everything runs smoothly so that the wedding isn’t ruined, bumping into Nathan sends her emotions in a frenzy.
When Meddeline accidentally killed her blind date and the dead body was accidentally transported to the wedding venue, everything turned into chaos for those in the know. Every moment with them trying to salvage the situation aka by hiding the body somewhere, I’m just laughing my ass off and facepalming.
The antiques that the aunties come up with were hilarious. First up, Ma decided to join an online dating site as Meddeline essentially cat-fishing and spends a bit of time chatting up with a hotelier named Jake. You can bet that all the sexual innuendos flew right over Ma’s head. I couldn’t stop laughing when Meddeline looked at the texts. Another moment is when the aunties went over the wide variety of fruits (“oooo, mangoes! dragon fruits!”) instead of the dead body in the trunk while Meddeline freaks out at the corner.
Big Aunt nods solemnly. “I hear about this kind of Internet scam before. Is called goldfish.”
“Catfish,” I say.
“No, I’m sure is call goldfish. Because pretend got gold, but actually just a fish.”
Despite them always bickering, the four sisters own a successful wedding business with the slogan “Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!” Big aunt bakes the wedding cakes while second aunt handles the makeup and hairstyles. In charge of the flower arrangement if Meddeline’s Ma and fourth aunt is the entertainer/performer. All the wedding happiness and ceremonies are captured by Meddeline the photographer. However, Meddeline has been thinking about how she doesn’t feel satisfied with her job.
Sister rivalry exists between fourth aunt and Ma, and there’s friction between big and second aunts. There’s also blatant favoritism and selected dislike amongst the four sisters when they started praising or nitpicking actions and words. Despite them always quarreling, the Chan sisters are close. Whatever they say or do always stemmed from a place of love and family which is a significant theme of Dial A for Aunties.
I adored the writing style, especially the way Jesse Q. Sutanto crafts the dialogues. There’s always a mixture of languages, such as English, Indonesian, and Mandarin when the aunties talked. This added another layer of familiarity as I was reading the book since it’s reflective of the diverse cultures of their family.