30 Books in 30 Days, Vol. 2
A more than worthy follow-up to Dial A For Aunties, which was one of my favorite reads last year (and favorite audiobooks; Risa Mei is a great narrator). If you liked Meddy and the Aunties the first time, you will like them here as well.
I keep seeing people describe these books as cozy mysteries, but they’re not, at all. Cozy mysteries are a very specific thing, and I wouldn’t describe this as one, despite aspects of it being cozy and that you could probably stretch to say there is also a mystery (but not really). I prefer to think of Sutanto’s stories more as gentle black comedies, or cozy caper farces. There are HIJINKS, and HIJINKS do not exist in cozy mysteries. Parts of this were so uncomfortable, but then it would turn right around and be delightful. It’s a rollercoaster. If you can stand the secondhand embarrassment, you will get giggles and agonized groans in return, in almost equal measure.
The plot revolves around Meddy and Nathan’s wedding, which is a destination wedding in London, because that’s where Nathan’s parents are from. Everything is looking to go off without a hitch, until Meddy overhears a phone conversation between her wedding photographer, Staphanie, and Staphanie’s Indo-Chinese wedding planner family (who act as mirrors for Meddy’s family for the entire book). When Meddy confronts her (drunkenly), Staphanie tells her their family is mafia and they are using the wedding as a cover to kill someone, and if Meddy tells the police, she will turn them in for killing Aguan last year. Meddy has no clue how they know about Aguan, but she and her family can’t just sit by and let someone be murdered at her wedding. Hijinks, as previously discussed, ensue.
I literally only have two criticisms of this book, and they are sort of holdovers from criticisms I had of the first one as well. The first is that I wish Second Aunt had more of a personality beyond doing Tai Chi. The other aunties seem much more well-rounded to me, but she’s kind of a one-trick pony. I also think if there were more facets to her character, I would have enjoyed a certain pivotal scene more: SPOILERS when she makes the entire wedding reception do Tai Chi as a distraction END SPOILERS. My second thing is that once again Nathan is my least favorite part of the book. My friend Miriam’s review mentions that she thinks he is there to give Meddy something unequivocally nice after the torture the author puts her through, and that’s a really good interpretation I hadn’t thought of. But I kept wishing that instead of being the straight man out of the loop, that he would join in on the hijinks. I wanted him to *really* be a part of Meddy’s family. Maybe in book three?
As a sidenote, I would like to point out that the Aunties are wearing their famous komodo dragon fascinators on the cover of the book, which isn’t something I noticed until I was almost done with it. Fantastic touch, cover artist. Just fantastic.
Read Harder Challenge 2022: Read a book in any genre by a POC that’s about joy and not trauma.