There’s Something About Sweetie
By: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 14th, 2019
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?
Guys, being an adult is SO HARD. I didn’t realize it until I actually had to be one, with a full-time job and everything. I meant to have a whole line-up of sweet, bubbly reads for summer–but we’ll squeeze them in before September, starting off with There’s Something About Sweetie.
As a general rule, if you ever need a sweet, fun book, pick up one by Sandhya Menon. I literally squealed multiple times reading When Dimple Met Rishi, if you might recall, and I enjoyed From Twinkle with Love. But Sweetie might be my favorite one of all.
If you’ve read Dimple, then you know Ashish–Rishi’s younger brother, a jock who thinks his parents tradition is tiresome at best. But after a bad breakup, he’s willing to let tradition try to fix his love life. Enter Sweetie, track star, singer, a girl who loves her parents tradition but also makes it her own. And yes, she’s fat–a label that she owns and acknowledges in the best way possible. One of the things I loved the most about this book was that Sweetie never looked at her own body or her own life with anything but love–her struggles with her weight were all about the assumptions that other people placed on her. Which, since her parents refuse to believe that Ashish could possibly be into her, means that she’s sneaking around with him–but his parents don’t want him breaking her heart, and subject them to a whole set of rules.
Again, I cannot emphasize this enough, Sweetie was the best character and I would defend her to the death. She’s bright, a born optimist, aware enough to see the ways that other people make assumptions about her, but sweet enough to be able to understand that her parents do want the best for her. I loved the ways that she subverted expectations and how people viewed her–how she called Ashish up and challenged him to a race, to prove to him that she was as much of an athlete as he was–and the ways that she deliberately worked at keeping her own confidence, which is a skill we all need to learn. I loved that she genuinely and without guilt enjoyed food, that she cared about tradition but also made it her own. Basically, I loved everything about her.
Ashish was also pretty good, though–a classic jock coming to the slow realization that he doesn’t want to stay in that mold, a stereotypical dude coming to terms with his own emotions and learning to accept a lot of things he’d been running from. I love that he worshipped the ground Sweetie walked on (as he DAMN WELL SHOULD), but not in a way that put her on a pedestal, instead he was focused on making her happy.
I also loved that, whereas the typical ‘rom-com’ relies on miscommunication as a plot device, Sweetie and Ashish had a strong bond, where they also communicated a lot, and clearly. There was one major miscommunication, after which both of them owned up to their own actions, figured out how to avoid that in the future, and got even closer because of it. I would give this book out as a guidebook to a healthy relationship.
I think what most rocked me about this book, though, was that a fat character was presented in a way where she wasn’t guilty or ashamed of her size, where she was at home in her body in a way that I still struggle to be, where there was no internal angst or pressure to lose weight, and she didn’t–instead, she was praised for her athleticism without a word being said about her weight. I haven’t read Dumplin’, or maybe I would be less blown away, but this was such a wonderfully fat-positive book. I also loved, again, how all of Sweetie’s angst about being fat was because of how other people were viewing her and the assumptions they were making–particularly her mother, who despite her sincere goal to help and protect Sweetie, was the main obstacle to the Sassy Sweetie Project.
I know summer is almost over, but this is definitely up there for a perfect beach read–and maybe something that I’ll go back to whenever I’m feeling particularly insecure about my own body, to remind myself that there’s nothing to be insecure about, and that there are healthy ways to deal with the insecurity that gets placed on us.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.