Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Source: Public Library
Hardcover, 320 pgs.
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Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto, was my work’s book club pick for March, is a coming of age story that takes a long trip off the rails of normal living. Meddelin Chan is an Indo-Chinese-American whose mother and aunties who can be a little stifling and over-bearing. This leaves her little room to be herself until she gets to live on a college campus and she meets the man of her dreams, Nathan.

SPOILER ALERT: Okay, Nathan would be the man of anyone’s dreams because honestly, he loves her no matter who she’s killed or what kind of trouble she gets into. That’s amazing to me. END SPOILER

When she returns from school after making a monumental life decision with little thought other than about a family curse and her familial obligations, the wedding business gets into full swing with her mother as a florist, her aunts as entertainment, makeup, and baker, and herself as the photographer. They are successful at this line of work, but Meddy is still not dating (ignore that 3 yr. relationship in college that her family knew nothing about).

This is where things go awry for Meddy. Her blind date is a horror show and the rest of the book from here is so over-the-top and ridiculous, it makes you want to cry with laughter. It’s definitely a comedy and not a serious murder mystery.

“I’m stuck in a nightmare. I know it. Maybe I got a concussion from the accident. Maybe I’m actually in a coma, and my coma-brain is coming up with this weird-ass scenario, because there is no way I’m actually sitting here, in the kitchen, watching my oldest aunties eat a mango and Ma and Fourth Aunt argue while Jake lies cooling in the trunk of my car.” (pg. 62)

The narrative style makes this relatable because Meddy is doing the talking and giving us all the ins-and-outs along the way, and the plot is just hilarious misstep after hilarious misstep. What bothered me and kept me from giving it a Quatrain rating was that it went a little too far with the over-the-top plotting. It was no longer believable to me in how the murder was resolved and wrapped up. Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto is a fun ride, and there happens to be a sequel. It’s definitely a book that will lighten your spirits even if there is a death involved.

RATING: Tercet and a half.

About the Author:

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.


  1. Poetry with words that assault the reader. I like that.
    I just reviewed a memoir by a poet who writes most of the book in poetic prose. Hope you will visit.

  2. It really was unbelievable and over the top but I loved it for how much and how hard it made me laugh out loud. I needed that at the time I read it. I think Meddy was a good narrator because she acknowledged her flaws and how crazy it all was.