“I think people who stand up for themselves, especially in the face of being told not to, are the kind of people this world needs more of.”
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?
Sandhya Menon has written what I think is one of the most well crafted YA books I’ve read in a long time. Even after finishing this book, my stomach involuntarily flutters when I think about it because this book has so much heart to it. There’s Something About Sweetie felt like a book my 16 year-old self desperately needed.
Sweetie Nair is the fastest runner at Piedmont High and could leave anyone in the dust. Coincidentally, Sweetie is also fat. She’s knows that when walking down the road people might make judgments about her based on her size, but she’s willing to prove everybody wrong. When her mother turns down the hot jock on Sweetie’s behalf, thinking that Sweetie isn’t good enough for him because of her size, she takes matters into her own hands. Wanting to prove to herself that her ability to find love isn’t tied down by her weight she propositions Ashish behind her parents back
Ashish Patel has never met a girl quite like Sweetie. Upon meeting her, Ashish cannot deny there’s something intriguing about her. Like Sweetie, Ashish comes to their new relationship with something to prove. After having recently been dumped by his first love, Ashish feels like he’s completely lost his mojo. The passionate and competitive side of him has gone completely dormant. He likes to hide behind a cocky smile, but really he’s feeling quite lonely and vulnerable. But even he can’t deny that being around someone as kind as Sweetie, isn’t changing him for the better.
This book is absolutely one of the best I’ve read that deals with body positivity and insecurities in narratives. Despite all the fatphobic messaging Sweetie is subjected too, she doesn’t want to change herself to keep people quiet. Ignoring these messages is easy enough, but much harder when they’re coming from inside your own house. Her own mother, while genuinely scared for Sweetie, thinks her life will be magically better if she was skinny. Not realizing that Sweetie is content and has everything she needs. I love how Sweetie’s mother wasn’t villainised, because it’s likely she has her own insidious voice she’s dealing with.
Ashish and Sweetie both have excellent characterization. I love that for once in a romance I enjoyed the dual perspective. Normally I do prefer just one perspective because I think it’s better not knowing what the other person is thinking. However I think that the representation here is so important and both perspectives were so needed to tell this story. Their dynamic was wholesome and sweet, and I loved watching them cross milestones in their relationship.
The only reason this book is shy of five stars is because this is a teenage romance that’s very fluffy. Generally I just prefer something more mature and angstier, but I’m also totally okay with this book being neither because I don’t really need to be seeing that from teenagers.
Books like this remind me why I shouldn’t let Young Adult Contemporary fall to the wayside. Nor should it get left behind by any reader who enjoys YA Contemporary. Intricate characterization and wonderful self-love and body positive stories is what I’m here for. I said that my 16 year-old self desperately needed this book, but even as an adult I treasured the message this story had.
Have you read any books by Sandhya Menon? I’d love to hear what you think of her writing and books!