Author: Sandhya Menon

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Release Date: 05.14.2019

TW: mention of fatphobia

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?

My Review:

I was given an eARC in exchange of an honest review.

A simultaneously funny and heartfelt story about two desi teenagers falling in love while finding their own self-worth.

The book follows two teenagers, Ashish and Sweetie as they find each other and fall in love challenging all their differences and their surroundings that say they cannot be together. As always, Menon brilliantly puts together this warm and lighthearted story of love and self-discovery.

Yes, I loved this book. I always love my littol desi teens falling in love and making their place in this world no matter the odds. Ashish and Sweetie does the same here. And I found myself rooting for them from the beginning to end, cheering Sweetie through every challenge she overcame, every bold move she dared to make.

The story started off great, and I loved how easily I was immersed in it and empathizing with Sweetie and Ashish from page one. The story was funny and heavy at the same time. It explored the fatphobia in Indian communities with nuance. But as the story progressed, the pacing fell flat. It was too repetitive and the story didn’t feel like it was moving at any specific direction.

The characters were all three dimensional but totally predictable. They slowly developed throughout the book and turned relatable. I loved loved *loved* Sweetie with all her sass and carefully masked insecurities. Sure, she had some unrealistically feisty friends, but I loved them as well. The way Sweetie slowly learned not to hide herself and to stand up for herself made me so happy to read about.

As for Ashish’s character, I loved that he was exactly how Menon writes her male characters–respectful, empathetic and understanding. Ashish was everything a man should be. But he wasn’t portrayed as a realistic teenager. He is a seventeen-year-old fuckboi kind of person, but his monologues sounded like that of a pearl-clutching soccer mom. In no way I could see the badboy Ashish he was supposed to be on the page.

Menon’s usual narrative didn’t fit this story. Both characters here were supposed to be more or less unlikeable, the playboy and the girl challenging societal norms. But they kept spiraling back to being these very nice and well-behaved characters like teens being watched over by overprotective mothers. And it just thew everything out of place.

Overall, I finished this book only because I wanted to see Sweetie thrive. It might be a slow read but the relationship dynamics Menon portrays is always worth reading.

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