There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya MenonThere's Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon
Published by Simon Pulse on May 14, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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The irresistible companion novel to the New York Times bestseller When Dimple Met Rishi, which follows Rishi’s brother, Ashish, and a confident fat athlete named Sweetie as they both discover what love means to them.

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?

When Dimple Met Rishi was one of my favorite reads of 2017, so I was crushed when From Twinkle, with Love was less my thing, but I’m thrilled to report that I’m back on track with There’s Something About Sweetie. Menon once again captures real life in the most flufftastic way, though I do admit I miss the snarkiness of Dimple, girl of my heart. Seriously, though, There’s Something About Sweetie is one of the fluffiest books I’ve ever read, full of confidence-boosts and validation, and I finished it off with happy tears.

Sweetie Nair defies expectations, and she loves that about herself. She’s the fastest runner in her high school, and one of the fastest in the state. She’s also fat. Despite constant shitty observations about her need to lose weight from peers, strangers, and, most painfully, her mother, Sweetie loves herself and her fat body. Her mission is to prove to her mother and anyone else she can that being fat in no way limits her opportunities for love and success.

Enter Ashish Patel, or, more accurately, Ashish Patel’s parents. See, he’s been really mopey since Celia cheated on and dumped him for a college guy; he sucks at basketball now and can’t even bring himself to be interested in hitting on the cheerleaders. Sidebar: I usually hate when companion novels change a ship, but this one works for me, largely because that relationship was doomed by logistics. Anyway, Ashish’s sort-of-friend Samir recommends that he have his parents find him a girl like they did for Rishi, and, though he didn’t plan to do that, he ends up challenging his parents to do so.

The Patels should really open up a matchmaking business, not for the money because they don’t need it but to help the world, because they’re so damn good at this. As When Dimple Met Rishi did, I love this variant look at arranged marriage (or dating in this case), which gets a bad rap in western culture but isn’t inherently a terrible thing. The Patels pick out Sweetie Nair, who they like because she comes from a good family, was raised with a strong connection to Indian culture, and is an athlete like Ashish. Unfortunately, Sweetie’s mom tells Mrs. Patel no, giving the reason that her daughter is too fat for Mrs. Patel’s son and would be laughed at.

Harsh, I know. I am not a fan of Sweetie’s mom at all. She constantly harps on Sweetie to get her to lose weight, even going so far as to not let Sweetie eat an apple unless she runs around the backyard first. Sweetie overhears her mother’s conversation with Mrs. Patel and decides that’s the last straw. She gets Ashish’s number through the friend network and calls him, and they end up arranging to date behind her parents’ backs.

The four-date scheme is super adorable, courtesy once again of the shipmeisters, the Patels. Along the way, Sweetie and Ashish are precious together, and Ashish learns to appreciate elements of Indian culture that he never had before. He’s completely head-over-heels for Sweetie physically and emotionally immediately basically, but he still struggles to find closure from his previous relationship.

The flaw of this book is actually that Ashish and especially Sweetie do not have enough flaws. Most of the time, Sweetie talks a bit like a therapist, calmly and reasonably talking others through their hold ups, big or small, and even reacting to her mother that way in the end. Doing that is almost impossible for adults, and it’s hard to imagine a teenager being this consistently level-headed. Her inner monologues and speeches about her body read like a blog post or twitter thread by an activist, not a teen girl who’s figured things out on her own. That said, I did get the feels from it, and I think it will absolutely help young fat readers get to that place, so maybe it’s for the best?

Aside from occasional body uncertainties, Sweetie’s perfect: kind, intelligent, funny, amazing athlete, and Adele-level singer. Sometimes it feels like to be a believable fat heroine, she had to be the most perfect, when, personally, I would have found her more relatable if she were a bit more flawed like the rest of us. I can’t help comparing There’s Something About Sweetie to Dumplin‘, and where Willowdean is judgmental and harsh and suspicious, Sweetie’s practically perfect in every way. I do think Dumplin’s the stronger novel for these complexities, but There’s Something About Sweetie does hit those emotional chords and make them sing as purely as Sweetie does.

There’s one scene in the book that really didn’t click for me, but it’s spoilery sooooo. View Spoiler »

In the end, the book does feel like it resolves a bit too easily (View Spoiler », but I closed the book close to crying happy tears. I’m so glad this book exists.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Sweetie is a TED talk for teens

One response to “There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon”

  1. Dang, the way Sweetie’s mom is trying to get her to lose weight is messed up. I understand what you mean about her character not having many flaws being a little unrealistic. Being a teenager – a human being – you’ve got to have some flaws. Teenager especially mess up a lot due to lack of experience. I kind of hated when Dimple Met Rishi so since this is a companion I doubt I would ever read it. I’m happy you enjoyed this one though.
    Adriana @ BooksOnHerMind recently posted…TBR Read | We Have Always Lived in the CastleMy Profile

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