This Writer Gal

Kakul Ehsan Butt

Dial A for Aunties

By Jesse Sutanto

SPOILERS BUT NO PLOT IS GIVEN AWAY (Avoid reading if you want to be kept in the dark, which is always a good choice)

I underestimated this book in the first few chapters. I am glad I stuck with it, because after a few chapters, the story truly and epically got started.

This is a light hearted comedy, which is impossible to put down and will make you laugh out loud. I was quite sad when I got to the last page. I really wanted more content with the mother and her sisters. By the end of the book, I absolutely adored the aunts, mother and Meddy. Even the minor characters, like Jacqueline and Nathan.

So what is it about —

Meddy Chan is an American woman in her twenties, of Indonesian-Chinese heritage who is close to her maternal aunts and mother. Together, they run a wedding business and Meddy is the photographer. Though not her dream, she sacrifices her own aspirations out of guilt and obligation. You see, at the start of the book, she gives us a brief history of how this family is cursed because all the men; husbands and sons seem to have abandoned their wives and mothers, whether it is through death, divorce or moving to the other side of US. As a result, she chooses to be a dutiful daughter, despite the meddling of her aunts and mother in her personal life.

One of the meddling results in a death of Meddy Chan’s atrocious blind date. In a state of panic, Meddy enlists the help of her mother and aunts to get rid of the body. But the only problem is, they have to work at the wedding the next day. They come with a genius plan to take the body with them in a hope to dispose of it there. But it gets harder as the bridal and groom parties have their own set of problems. What makes it difficult is the sister rivalries; big and second aunts have their own rivalry and then there is Meddy’s mother and fourth aunt who have their own rivalry. Their rivalries sometimes create trouble, especially when they go from working as a team to working separately to get rid of the body, with Meddy trying to rein in her elders.

I can’t say more because I would be giving up more of the plot. Let me just say that it is hilarious. I laughed at every chaos that was presented and thought “oh no!”.

What I loved about this book is that teaches readers who might not be familiar with Asian culture, about how young (+older) people are taught to be respectful to their elders. Even though they drive her up the wall, Meddy is thoughtful and respectful – and this made me warm to the character even more. As an Asian person, it resonates with me a lot.

When I finished this book, I had a feeling it would be turned into a movie – lo and behold – I read on the internet grapevine that it is being adapted for Netflix. This makes me so happy! But first folks, please read the book. I thoroughly recommend it.

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