REVIEW: There's Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

Just when I thought it was impossible to gush over one of Sandhya Menon's characters more than I have Ashish Patel from When Dimple Met Rishi, along came Sweetie Nair in There's Something About Sweetie. I mean, there's just something about her that made me fall in love. Obviously!

contemporary young adult fiction
There's Something About Sweetie tells the story of a soon-to-be seventeen year old Indian-American girl and her self-love journey. This journey affects everything around her, from her choices, relationships with others (especially her mother), and her ability to share her voice with others, both figuratively and literally.

At first glance, we see Sweetie as the typical teenager, trying to find her footing in the world. But as we look beyond the layers, we find so much more. Not only is she the track star at her school, she's the lead singer in her girlfriend-group-turned-band, as well as a self-proclaimed feminist. While on the outside she appears to be this cool, cavalier, confident young woman who doesn't care what others think of her, she is deeply affected by her mother's disapproval of her weight. 

Being overweight bothers Sweetie's mother so much, she unwittingly takes it upon herself to "fat-shame" Sweetie before others do. This shaming creates a strained relationship between Sweetie and Amma that makes Sweetie feel that she will never be enough for her mother. Wanting desperately to prove to everyone that she can be her best self while maintaining her current weight, Sweetie embarks on a self-love journey coined "The Sassy Sweetie Project."

In the middle of creating this project, Sweetie and Amma are propositioned by Ashish Patel's mother. Just as Sweetie has something to prove to her mother, Ashish has something to prove to his own parents. Having never dated an Indian-American girl, Ashish's parents thought it would be a good idea to arrange a date for him. And since Sweetie already had her eye on the handsome basketball star, Sweetie was game. However, Sweetie's mother forbids her to date Ashish Patel because Amma secretly confides in Ashish's mother that they aren't a match because of Sweetie's weight. And as fate would have it, Sweetie overheard the conversation and was again crushed by her mother's words. What a buzzkill.

This conversation helps Sweetie move forward with the Sassy Sweetie Project, causing her to begin secretly dating Ashish through dates sanctioned by his parents. It is through the blooming relationship between Sweetie and Ashish that the readers see Sweetie as well as Ashish grow as young people and learn to accept themselves and who they are as Indian-American teens raised by traditional Indian parents. Through the alternating POVs we see Sweetie and Ashish maintain friendships, strive to better themselves, and learn what it means to get to know another person romantically.

I loved so much about this book. I love the power of friendship displayed in the close-knit friendships both Sweetie and Ashish had, respectively. I also love how both Sweetie and Ashish were learning to accept themselves wholly as the story progressed. While we see much of Sweetie coming into her own through body positivity, we also see moments of Ashish sharing his feelings of insecurity. Just as Sweetie feels she doesn't measure up to her mother because of her appearance, Ashish felt he played "second-fiddle" to his older brother Rishi because he didn't cling to his traditional Indian values as much as his brother did. But in the midst of all the teenage angst, both characters were able to lean into each other and progressively grow as the book reached the end.

Above all, I love that Sweetie is a sassy, assertive, and spicy lead character. I believe Sandhya Menon gets this right with each of her books. I'm always on the search for strong heroines in my young-adult fiction reads these days and Menon does not disappoint. She also creates characters full of color that show up on the page, and don't just fall flat within the plot, finding it hard to decipher one from the next as the book progresses. 

While I had to get used to the word "fat" being used so often, I feel that it was more of a "me" thing than the book because I've been conditioned to look at the word negatively. Sweetie wears the word "fat" with pride and urges me to look at the word in an entirely different light. And I thank Sandhya Menon for that.

sandhya menon books

I would recommend There's Something About Sweetie to any lovers of contemporary young-adult fiction that like their female heroines assertive and spicy, appreciate diverse characters that aren't one dimensional, and are suckers for a sassy-sweet love story unfolding throughout the read. To grab a copy of your own, click here.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Simon Teen for a copy of There's Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon.


Will you be checking out There's Something About Sweetie? 

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