Title: There’s Something About Sweetie
Series: The Dimple-verse
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: YA, contemporary
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so… sucky. After he’s 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?
One of the (many) things I love about Sandhya’s writing is how her characters are always so three dimensional. Even the side characters have layers. And so they jump off the page as people I could know, friends I may have had growing up, especially in the familiarity of the Indian community outside of India. The sense of Indian diaspora and trying to fit in both with those that look like you and those that you grow up with is very much present, even if it is not in your face.
And with Sweetie, a fat Indian character, I really felt it, because I used to be a fat kid, and I know very well how that gets you looked at in the Indian community, especially if you are a girl. (It’s the same with being darker skinned, honestly, and as the tannest of three sisters, I definitely got a lot of comments, but hopefully that will be another story someday.) Reading about Sweetie’s struggle to get her mother to accept her, to find her voice in putting her foot down – which, again, so relatable – was like a glimpse back into part of my teenage years.
Sweetie’s outlook at life does not so much change in the book, which one would think makes for a boring book – but it’s not Sweetie that needs to change, but the outlooks of her mother, some of their peers, and I think it was so wonderfully done.
Ashish being completely enamoured with Sweetie from the get go was adorable. I loved that even in his heartbroken state, there was something about Sweetie (ha!) that captivated him and drew him in. They complimented each other with her giving him a new outlook at things he was sure about and him giving her a necessary boost in confidence to go through with her plan to be her best self.
This was so totally adorable and I cannot even stop smiling.