Review: Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Sutanto

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?

  • Title: Dial A for Aunties 
  • Author: Jesse Sutanto
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • Genre: Adult, Romance, Romcom, Murder
  • Targeted Age Range: Adult
  • Trigger Warnings: Death, murder, description of dead bodies (no gore), casual racism, attempted sexual assault, drug use, alcohol use, 
  • Rating: ★★★★★

Firstly, I want to give a massive massive thank you to HarperCollins Australia for sending me this book – it has instantly become a favourite of mine and I have you to thank for that. Dial A for Aunties is a book that I think everyone will enjoy: it simply has everything. It has romance (and a romance that is to die for), comedy, interesting family dynamics and, well, murder. Who doesn’t love a good murder book every now and then? I went into this book knowing that Caitlyn loved it, and had spoken very highly about it, and her hype didn’t disappoint. After immediately putting down Dial A for Aunties, I knew it was instantly a new favourite. 

Our story follows Meddy, a wedding photographer for the family business who just wants to live the life she wants. The family curse is simple – all the men in their life seem to leave. Husbands, sons, cousins — all of them seem to leave the family, and it has become a curse. Meddy is an endearing protagonist, one you genuinely cheer for as the story goes on. As we learn more and more about her life we learn just what motivates her (her family) and what is truly holding her back from being herself (also her family). She just wants to be happy, truly undoubtedly happy, and we get to watch it happen throughout the book. It’s truly lovely to read about her becoming more sure in what she wants, who she wants, and how she’s going to achieve it. 

Nathan was a wonderful love interest for Meddy, perfectly complimenting her in his entirety. He’s driven, hard working, kind, and successful – all of the things that mirror Meddy’s personality traits perfectly. The one thing in the way? They broke up in college, and haven’t seen each other since. Somehow, Jesse Sutanto managed to write the perfect romance in a novel about murder. I’m not sure how she’s managed it, but she has, and I adore it. Meddy and Nathan’s relationship from the get go was amazing – they were a believable couple, still pining for each other four years after the break up, and you were rooting for them to get together. I loved their romance, loved the journey they went on, and would love a second book to see what kind of future they have together. 

Of course, I can’t review a book called Dial A for Aunties without mentioning the Aunties themselves. My goodness, what a wonderful batch of characters. They were one of my favourite parts of the book – their dynamic was just so hilarious, and you can really tell Sutanto took time to carefully write each of them, to give them different personalities and different motivations. They were the perfect trio of characters, and I loved all three of them. They were so funny, and they were the main source of comic relief for the novel. I cannot wait to see how Dial A for Aunties translates to the film adaption we’re getting, because I know it’ll just make me cry in laughter. That being said, they were also serious characters at times. They had their disputes, their rivalries, but it didn’t let it get in the way of their love for their niece, and their dedication to their family. I would honestly love a sequel just to read more about them. 

Another character I loved was Meddy’s mom. She’s the reason the entire murder plot happens – she sets her daughter up on a date, and drama ensues. Meddy’s mom is a wonderful character, and above all she has so much love for her daughter. She was a lovely character to read about, and I loved reading about how she would drop everything in order to help her daughter out of a rough situation. Paired with Meddy’s aunties, her mother was a comedic force to be reckoned with, and was a wonderful contributor to the comedic arsenal in this novel. Honestly, she was one of my favourite characters!

Ultimately, I think this is the perfect novel to pick up if you’re in a slump, or if you just want a laugh. To put it simply, it’s hilarious. I loved every minute of reading it, and I genuinely can’t wait to reread (is it too soon – asking for a friend!). Jesse Sutanto has written the perfect murder-comedy-romance, a feat that should be impossible, but has me wanting more books from her. I cannot wait to see what she publishes next, and I am eagerly waiting for the Dial A for Aunties screen adaptation. If this book isn’t on your TBR, it definitely should be. Links for Dial A for Aunties:

Links for Dial A for Aunties: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | Indiebound

Jesse Q Sutanto grew up shuttling back and forth between Jakarta and Singapore and sees both cities as her homes. She has a Masters degree from Oxford University, though she has yet to figure out a way of saying that without sounding obnoxious. She is currently living back in Jakarta on the same street as her parents and about seven hundred meddlesome aunties. When she’s not tearing out her hair over her latest WIP, she spends her time baking and playing FPS games. Oh, and also being a mom to her two kids.

Follow Jesse: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

13 thoughts on “Review: Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Sutanto

  1. I’ve been hearing so much about this book lately and it looks perfect as a pick-me-up. I think I’m going to save it for a day when I really need cheering up. Great review! And we’re getting a film adaptation?? That would be so cool!

    Liked by 1 person

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