I was so lucky to recently be provided with an eARC of There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon, (thank you NetGalley!) and could not wait to dive into it! I adored both other books in this world (When Dimple Met Rishi and From Twinkle, With Love) and so I knew I would find this one equally awesome. What I didn’t expect was for it to be my favorite Menon novel so far!
I am very particular when it comes to my YA Contemporary reads, and I have to be in the mood, for sure. I mean, I lived through HS more than a decade ago, and so revisiting those days on page is not always my jam. HOWEVER, I also find Contemporary to be the perfect hangover cure when I am suffering from some SciFi or Fantasy epic, and this was the perfect book to follow up the magic that was Aurora Rising. I needed something fun and light and with just a little teen angst to shake up my feels. I will keep this review spoiler-free, since it isn’t even out yet!
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?
To give a little background, Sweetie is set in the same universe as Dimple, and follows Rishi’s younger brother Ashish (who you will def remember if you read Dimple) who is reeling from a breakup with his college-aged girlfriend. We also meet Sweetie, the titular character, who is totally awesome. One of the things I love the most about Menon’s books is that the male and female MCs get equal page-time and we get to see both POVs. Her characters are also usually very forthcoming with their feelings – even just to the audience – which is SUPER refreshing in a genre filled with miscommunication tropes. I mean, how many times have to wanted to reach through the pages at a character and shake them well yelling “JUST SAY THE THING YOU IDIOT!”? It can’t be just me. Fortunately, there is none of that here!
Sweetie is such an amazing character and I loved what she brought forth. A great student and a record-winning track star, she is also fat. An ongoing theme of the book is that fat isn’t a four letter word; it’s the opposite of thin, and shouldn’t invoke negative images. This is such a GREAT message, especially in this body-conscious world we live in, and I would put this forth as recommended reading for girls of all ages! Sweetie is very forthcoming about her size, but suffers for it with a mother who puts her down at all turns.
Sweetie’s relationship with her mother was the hardest part of this book. Seeing her faced with disapproval and shame at every turn, especially in her own home, was heartbreaking. Not going to lie, I def got teary on more than one occasion. The worst part was that her mother really thought she meant well, even when Sweetie vocalized how it hurt her. This was definitely rough. Fortunately, she has some badass friends who are super supportive of her.
And then we have Ashish. Wonderful, adorable, cinnamon-roll Ashish. He’s the HS basketball hottie, and is the nicest person ever. Making this book even more diverse, his three best friends include PoC, and they include an adorable gay couple. When Ash meets Sweetie for the first time, his first impression is about how beautiful she is. Her size never becomes an issue, although she is the first to acknowledge it after kicking his ass in a footrace. It is pretty clear how perfect they are for each other, and he doesn’t question this at all.
We do see a bit of drama (this is HS after all) in regards to Ash’s ex. Like most first loves, he is totally heartbroken when she leaves him, and he suffers well into the book because of it. However, he is smart enough to realize Sweetie is the best choice, and figures his shit out before too long. The author doesn’t drag out the drama, thank goodness, so we don’t have to worry about our OTP for more than a few minutes.
I won’t spoil the ending, but know that it is awesome and adorable and just what you want from the story. We even get a little cameo appearance from Dimple and Rishi, just to make things more fun!
I loved this book so much, and cannot wait to have the finished copy in my hands! Menon is a wonderful writer and she has quickly become an auto-buy author for me. I fully endorse this, and cannot recommend it enough. If you love YA Contemporary, you will not want to miss out on this!
There’s Something About Sweetie releases on May 14th! You can order it here.