Book Review / Books

Book Review: Dial A For Aunties

What happens when you mix 1 (accidental) murder with 2,000 wedding guests, and then toss in a possible curse on 3 generations of an immigrant Chinese-Indonesian family?

You get 4 meddling Asian aunties coming 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 inadvertently 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 the 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 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?


The rom-com genre is alive and thriving! After a few duds (reviews of said duds still pending), I considered giving up on trying to get into contemporary romance reads. Yet, Jessie Sutanto’s Dial A For Aunties has given me hope.

Dial A For Aunties is batshit, in the best possible way! Sutanto serves The Hangover-esque plot but with less mobsters and added Asian aunties. What could be better? I was so unsure going into Dial A For Aunties, but Sutanto quickly proved me wrong as I devoured it in an entire day.

I love love loved Meddy, her Ma, and Aunties. They’re all incredible women! While I grew up miles away from the Filipino side of my family, I could relate so much to the Asian sentiments around family and Meddy’s sense of filial duty as I feel that with my own Ma. Filial duty can often be presented really negatively in stories and Meddy touches on the idea of it being stifling and a burden – which it can feel at times – but Sutanto reinforces how special it is to have a close and supportive family unit who are willing to do anything for each other! In Meddy’s case, that means helping cover up a murder and the Aunties tried their damndest. They are dedicated.

The dynamic between the family was so refreshing, heartwarming and I lived for those genuinely laugh out loud moments. Even when they’re bickering or angry, the love and support they have for one another is evident. It’s the first time I’ve felt that representation of close ride-or-die Asian family dynamics in a light-hearted but meaningful and positive way – it’s just so lovely.

I especially appreciated Sutanto’s afterword where she mentions Meddy’s families broken English in the story and relates that to her own family. I loved that she highlighted that broken English is not a sign of a lack of intelligence but the sacrifice these family members made to provide better lives for their children.

Dial A For Aunties is so uniquely zany that I don’t even know what genre you’d put it in. It’s crime, romance and comedy all packed into one. It’s a real smorgasbord. There’s elements of social commentary about Indo-Chinese culture and Asian culture in general, a lot of satire, soap opera moments and thriller elements. Just when you think it can’t get any more insane, it does. Ma and the Aunties are quite obviously caricatures of Asian culture and some of the Aunties are more one-note than the others. Yet, as I’ve said, the dynamic is highly entertaining and relatable if you’ve grown up with similar Asian family members who hold those stereotypical, traditional values and attitudes – which some of mine do! Even while lugging a dead body around a wedding venue in a cooler, all Meddy’s Aunties care about is respecting elders and filial piety. One Auntie even bursts into tai chi when she’s stressed and I’m kind of obsessed with it.

From wedding drama, to hiding a dead body, to dealing with fussy Asian aunties and an ex, Dial A For Aunties is so hilarious, choatic and highly addictive – I could not put it down. I was either giggling or smiling the whole time I was reading.

Sutanto reminded me of just how fun rom-com reads can be and I look forward to picking up the next book in the Aunties series! 🤭


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