REVIEW: Four Aunties and a Wedding by Jesse Q Sutanto
The aunties are back, fiercer than ever and ready to handle any catastrophe—even the mafia—in this delightful and hilarious sequel by Jesse Q. Sutanto, author of Dial A for Aunties.
Meddy Chan has been to countless weddings, but she never imagined how her own would turn out. Now the day has arrived, and she can’t wait to marry her college sweetheart, Nathan. Instead of having Ma and the aunts cater to her wedding, Meddy wants them to enjoy the day as guests. As a compromise, they find the perfect wedding vendors: a Chinese-Indonesian family-run company just like theirs. Meddy is hesitant at first, but she hits it off right away with the wedding photographer, Staphanie, who reminds Meddy of herself, down to the unfortunately misspelled name.
Meddy realizes that is where their similarities end, however, when she overhears Staphanie talking about taking out a target. Horrified, Meddy can’t believe Staphanie and her family aren’t just like her own, they are The Family—actual mafia, and they’re using Meddy’s wedding as a chance to conduct shady business. Her aunties and mother won’t let Meddy’s wedding ceremony become a murder scene—over their dead bodies—and will do whatever it takes to save her special day, even if it means taking on the mafia.
Dear Ms. Sutanto,
Last year I fell in love with Meddy and her Indo-Chinese female relatives – three aunties and her mother. The hijinks they got into as they tried to protect Meddy and hide the body of the man who tried to assault her had me busting a gut with laughter. Of course I had to find out what would happen as Meddy and Nathan’s (not the man who assaulted her) English wedding took place. The answer? Even more hysteria. But somehow this time, it was maybe just a bit too much.
Meddy and Nathan are tying the knot and to keep from having a “thousand person Indo-Chinese wedding,” where forgetting to invite someone (no matter how distant the actual familian connection) could cause hard feelings. So they’re going to have it in England where Nathan’s parents live. Meddy and wedding organizer Staphanie immediately connect over the shared experience of how similar their families are. When Meddy overhears something the night before the ceremony, everything gets upended as she and the Aunties have to keep a mafia hit from occurring at Meddy’s wedding (bad luck and maybe no grandbabies for Ma) but Things prevent them from going to the police. Will they manage to avert this crisis? And can Meddy keep Nathan from finding out what’s going on?
Readers who haven’t read “Dial A for Aunties” might be initially confused trying to follow along with parts of this story though there is some non-info dumpy explanation of what happened in the first book. There is a whole lot of suspension of disbelief that will need to be achieved in order to keep reading. But I think much of the charm of the Aunties has been lost here. They are quite a lot to take in – which even Meddy (frequently) admits when her relatives do something that makes them stand out from the crowd. I think that is part of why this book didn’t work as well for me as the first one. I knew the Aunties and had experienced their “in your face-ness” but here it was also more over-the-top at the same time. Very, very OTT.
Let me delve into that some more because it ties in with a second reason I had issues with this story. In the first book, wild antics were going on but Meddy and her Aunties were more in the background of the big wedding that was the backdrop for much of that story. They could be panicked, or harried, or desperate in their attempts to cover up something and it wasn’t odd that the multitude of wedding guests didn’t notice it much. Here however, as the plot is intricate and being told from Meddy’s first person POV she has to be in a lot of scenes and it is odd that she, the bride, is absent or acting weird for so much of the day.
Meddy mentions some of this in an attempt to use “reverse lampshade” or “hanging lampshade” wherein an author mentions the very thing that readers are probably critically eyeing, discusses how improbable this is, and then keeps at it. It didn’t work for me and as Meddy has to slip away and ghost a lot of her own wedding reception and dinner again and again, it made me more irritated. With all the wild stuff going on, thinking about how the guests and Nathan’s family are reacting to Meddy being gone is probably the last thing that should be on my mind but I couldn’t stop thinking of how conveniently the guests are “poofed” out of the narrative when they ought to be thinking how strange it is that the bride is missing again.
A ton of stuff happens in this book. Lots of balls have to be juggled and kept in the air. Disaster almost strikes over and over only for Meddy and the Aunties to somehow avert catastrophe one more time. I loved seeing Meddy marry the (almost too good to be true, no – really) man of her dreams, the Aunties were somewhat entertaining, the glimpse of the Indo-Chinese culture and ways of thinking was wonderful, and Meddy’s realization at the end about how she thinks of these women is touching. I wanted to sink back into and delight in the breakneck outrageousness I enjoyed in “Dial A for Aunties” but couldn’t. The plot was just too implausible, common sense was out the window, the humor didn’t work as well for me as the Aunties’ antics and flamboyance made me grimace more than laugh, and to see Meddy and Nathan’s special day turned into a chaotic, stress filled fiasco was sad. Don’t get me wrong, I would definitely try another “Aunties” book – “Four Aunties and a Baby Delivery” perhaps? This book unfortunately doesn’t live up to its predecessor. C+