First, let me start by saying that I didn’t hate Dial A for Aunties. This post is all just my own opinion and has nothing to do with how well the book was written. On the contrary, it was a fun read and I truly believe the author has an amazing way with words. I’d honestly probably read something else by Ms. Sutanto. I just didn’t love THIS story, you know? I wanted to, absolutely, but the more I thought about it… The things I didn’t like about the plot simply eclipsed what I did.
Anyway, before I dive into the problems I had with ‘Dial A for Aunties’, I should let you know that most of these items could be considered spoilers. So I want to warn you now! From Goodreads:
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?
Alright, so my first and biggest issue was the murder. Not that it happened at all but how it was handled. I completely understand that Meddy panicked. She was on a date with a stranger and he wasn’t taking her where she asked to go. The situation was made worse when he began making unwanted advances. I have no doubt that I would be freaked too if I was in her shoes. But her actions after she “killed” him didn’t sit right with me. Normal people would try to get help; not stuff the body in the trunk of the car and drive home. Then her Mom and Aunties jumped in to “help” and made everything 10 times worse.
I want it to be said that I absolutely love when family is there for someone no matter what but the guy she killed was a person too. Was he leaning towards the rape-y line? 100% in my opinion! Again, I probably would’ve tased his ass too. However, I still feel like a dead body should be treated with a little respect and not packed around like a piece of luggage. And I mean that they seriously carted him around like an inanimate object. He went from the trunk of Meddy’s car to a cooler in Big Aunt’s bakery to the wedding venue where they were working the next day (fine, it was accident, but still). Then he was moved all over the hotel as they attempted to keep him hidden from everyone! No one thought to call the cops or EMS or even find out if he had family? Were they hoping his existence would just disappear once they disposed of him?
Since the murder and ensuing chaos are a major plot driver, I’m not sure how or even if the story could have been written differently. If you took the murder out, there’d be no tension. I get that. It would just be the story of a woman meeting her college love again after years of living on opposites sides of the US. How many of those romance books have you read? So even though we see the dilemma of a dead body fading as the wedding takes center stage, it was still there hovering in the background. How the corpse didn’t begin to smell, I’ll never know.
But when they popped up, none of the scenes where they were trying to hide or dispose of the body sat well with me. Even regardless of the funny situations that developed because of it. Because I did giggle a few times. The family dynamic was absolutely everything and I loved it! I truthfully want to read the sequel just to get more of the Aunties and Meddy’s Mom. However, as soon as I was smiling over the family vibe, the attitude towards the dead man ruined it.
This brings me to the next issue I had. The wrap up of the whole fiasco. I’ll admit, the tale spun was expertly done. Once the sheriff showed up, I kept trying to figure out how Meddy and company were going to literally get away with murder but I really didn’t see that ending coming. I rushed through the final 100 pages or so because I was absolutely sure that it would all implode. And it did… Just not the way I thought or in a way that could be considered realistic. The tale they told the sheriff made sense, yes, but any detective worth their salt would be able to poke holes all over that story, nevermind if forensics were involved. Do the cops just take your word that it was a drug and alcohol induced, accidental death? Would they not do an autopsy just to be safe? The ready acceptance by authorities was almost TOO convenient.
The third problem I had was the romance. I liked Nathan. I think he makes a good match for Meddy. I can also understand why she balked at moving to New York with him after they graduated college. That’s a big step no matter your familial background. BUT! The sudden hot and heavy reactions after they saw each other at the hotel for the first time? It felt forced. I get that Meddy had been pining for him for YEARS and that he’s sexy as Hell and that she couldn’t move on because she was still so in love with Nathan. I get it. I do! I even buy that he was still in love with her. But I also know that after all those years, you don’t go immediately to pawing at each other. Definitely not when you are on a job, with family nearby, and a body to keep hidden. Furthermore, you may know the old flame but at the same time, you don’t. It’s almost like meeting someone for the first time. Some things will be the same and some won’t. But the author chose to portray them as horny teenagers who sought each other out every chance they got. That behavior didn’t jive with me. If they’d been apart, with no communication, for that long of a time, it should’ve been more awkward between them. I’d even go with the word – shy. There was none of that.
Add in that Nathan, the jilted lover from her past, just suddenly wanted to take the fall for Meddy’s crime with no questions asked? He built up this whole hotel with investors and whatnot, his “dream” since forever, and he’s going to willingly tank it for a girl that dumped him in college. Because he still loves her? Because she’s been running hot and cold on him for the past 12 hours? That’s enough of a reason to throw the entire life he built away? Like what?! Without even a “hey, let’s catch-up on how life’s been the past decade” conversation? He’s supposed to be really smart! Hell, she is too, for that matter. So nope. That’s a leap of faith that I just can’t do.
I know a lot has been said so I guess the last thing that sort of irked me was the bride/MOH side love story. It felt thrown in there to justify the MOH’s actions. Like the author wanted to make her a bad person but then changed her mind halfway through writing. No one in their right mind would steal from the person they love, just to *hopefully* keep them from getting married. And again, when Mom and the Aunties were being held at gunpoint by the MOH… Why were they all so chill? They don’t know that woman! Even the MOH acted like what she was doing was no big deal. Like she’s done it a thousand times and it’s ordinary. Meddy was the only one taking the threat seriously but even she was like ‘whatever’ towards the end. So I couldn’t fully be happy for that wrap up because the whole thing was jacked up to me.
In the end, the book was just a long string of massive comedic errors. One unrealistic mistake after another, only to end in an unrealistic ending.
So what did I like about the story? What “saved” it for me? It was funny! It made me laugh. The comedy and banter is 100% there. The flashbacks to Meddy and Nathan in college were adorable. Those were wholesome and sweet and I found myself wanting more of THAT couple. Because of that, I can’t say I hated the entire book. It wouldn’t be true. Major plot issues notwithstanding, it truly was a fun read.
I don’t know that I’d recommend it to my friends but I also wouldn’t tell someone to avoid it either. I would encourage them to read it and share their thoughts with me though. Maybe see if I’m the only one in a love/hate relationship with the plot? You tell me. 🙂