Book Review: There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

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Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so…sucky. After being dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up.
The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl—under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work?
Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death.
Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of.
Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there’s an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other?

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If I thought When Dimple Met Rishi was wonderful, there is no way I could have described how excited I was for this one. While getting a story about Ashish was in itself a draw, my main reason to read this was a fat brown desi heroine. They so so rare in media that I don’t even look for this representation, so it was such a pleasant surprise when I first saw the amazing cover of this book. And I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it.

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We already know from the first book that Ashish is a cocky jock, and here he is heartbroken after his breakup with Celia. He has always tried to reject his Indianness because he didn’t like his parents hovering over him, but finally decides to let go of the resentment and embrace their decisions for a change. This leads to his introduction to Sweetie. She is the top track star of her school, is comfortable in her own body for the most part, but her mother’s incessant comments about her weight chip away at her little by little. And she decides to just do something rebellious for once and prove to herself that she is wonderful and desirable just as she is.

I loved all the scenes they were together. The relationship development was very cute, all their “parental approved” dates really sweet and hilarious, and I could see why they really were good together. She helped him embrace his culture a bit more and also be able to show his vulnerability, and he gave her all the respect she deserved and always stood up for her. While this book is definitely a case of instalove, I kind of decided to go with the flow because it’s not really that unbelievable for their age.

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Just like the previous two books, Sandhya’s writing is so pleasing and fun to read that I flew through this one in a matter of hours. I had a huge smile on my face for the most part because of all the cuteness and some hilarious pop culture references. I also liked the way the author manages to make these kids self respecting and strong, wanting to stand up for themselves, without ever disrespecting their parents. I also felt that the desiness of the book was very inherent and organic, it didn’t exactly stand out like the author was forcing it but it was just a part and parcel of these characters’ lives. My only gripe probably would be that Sweetie was too wise for her sixteen years, and I don’t know if teenagers really can give such sage advice all the time.

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Obviously the major element of this book is body positivity and I loved how happy Sweetie was being the way she was. She still got hurt or felt bad when someone commented on her body, either intentionally or just due to ignorance, but she never lets it affect her perception of herself. The major conflict obviously comes from her mother’s character – she is constantly telling Sweetie to lose weight, saying that she wouldn’t be happy if she wasn’t thin, going as far as saying that even if she turned out to be both fat and happy, it would be a lucky miracle. These constant comments really hurt Sweetie and me because I have heard so much of this myself (I do even now). Such conversations have been so much a part of my life that for very long, I didn’t even realize fat shaming was wrong or that was the reason I kept feeling bad. While it’s awesome how Sweetie and the author reiterate the message of accepting our fatness and curves, I don’t know if I’m there yet. I try not to let them hurt me much, but acceptance will probably take a while. And that’s why this book is so important and I’m so happy it exists. Hopefully more books like these will help me too. And the one thing that stuck with me was that despite the reconciliation that happens at the end, Sweetie’s mom never actually apologizes for her fat shaming comments and I would have liked that to happen in a book, because it would probably never happen in real life.

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If you liked Sandhya’s previous books, then you’ll definitely like this one too. It’s an adorable and sweet love story, albeit slightly unrealistic at times, but still very enjoyable. But the reason I want everyone to read this one is for its important messaging, the fat acceptance and general body positivity, because this representation is very much needed and more so for desi readers.

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19 thoughts on “Book Review: There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

Add yours

  1. Ahhhh! I feel like I’ve bitten into a sweet reading this post. So lovely and warming. ❤️❤️❤️

    The theme too, is very relevant and dear to all of us. Body shaming, in any form is NOT okay. It’s also, no one’s business.

    Liked by 1 person

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