Author: Sandhya Menon
Find the author: Website, Blog, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest
Also by this author: When Dimple Met Rishi, From Twinkle, with Love
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication date: May 14, 2019
Source: ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada (thank you!)
Format: eARC from publisher (thank you!)
“Adorable, joyous.” —BuzzFeed
“I’m head-over-heels for this charming, funny, romantic, life-affirming book.” —Becky Albertalli, New York Times bestselling author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Leah on the Offbeat
The irresistible companion novel to the New York Times bestseller When Dimple Met Rishi, which follows Rishi’s brother, Ashish, and a confident, self-proclaimed 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?
REVIEW: There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon
A really cute diverse love story with a great message. Sweetie Nair is a fat, high school track star who is a fierce feminist. She’s also a dutiful daughter and super into her Indian culture. Sweetie spends most of her time dealing with her mother’s issues with how she should lose weight, but her confidence shines through the years of fat-shaming.
Ashish Patel is dealing with heartbreak. After being dumped by his on-and-off college girlfriend Celia, he’s got no mojo left. He’s worried he’ll never gain back his confidence with basketball, girls, or, well, anything. On the advice of a friend, Ashish dares his parents to arrange a girlfriend for him – after all, it worked for his brother Rishi and his girlfriend Dimple, right? But Sweetie’s mom says no because she feels that Sweetie’s fatness isn’t up to Ashish’s handsome, thin level (even though the Patels don’t care).
Sweetie decides to take matters into her own hands and invites Ashish out. The catch? In order to date, the Patels insist that they have to dictate the terms of the first four dates that Ashish and Sweetie have together. And some of the dates include, like, a temple visit! Ashish is horrified, but Sweetie goes along with it. And what starts as a sort of arrangement becomes a secret relationship where they both learn and grow together.
Sandhya Menon is one of the only authors out there who can make me believe in an insta-love story, and this one is no different. I did think this one was maybe a bit too fast for my liking – the attraction is immediate, sure, but so is the crazy amount of interest on both of their parts. But Sweetie and Ashish are SO cute together, and their wonder and awe at their first love is so intoxicating that it’s hard not to root for them. The body positive message and the way this book portrays filial piety is also super great. Ashish and Sweetie also both have awesome, realistic squads of friends, and that was really fun to read, too.
The Final Word:
There’s Something About Sweetie is the ultimate in feel-good, fluffy books (it might have been a touch TOO fluffy for me). A perfect summer beach read, and a good read for younger teens and people who don’t mind insta-love.I Wish You All the Best Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books | Audible
"Heartfelt, romantic, and quietly groundbreaking. This book will save lives." -- Becky Albertalli, New York Times bestselling author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
It's just three words: I am nonbinary. But that's all it takes to change everything.
When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they're thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents' rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.
But Ben's attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan's friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.
At turns heartbreaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.
Review: I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
I’m sure I’m in the minority for this rating, but frankly, I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver just wasn’t that compelling a read for me. Yes, it’s one of the first books about a non-binary character written by a non-binary author. The rep is good. Ben’s coming out and subsequent fall-out feel realistic and, at turns, heart-wrenching.
But here’s the thing: Ben is probably the most normal, boring character you could ever imagine. Like, they’re just THERE. They go through the motions of everything at school, at therapy, with their friends and family. And it just never felt very interesting to me. It’s almost as if the author was trying to show that a non-binary kid is just like any other boring teenager, and to me, that’s, well, kind of boring. The saving grace of this book was Nathan, Ben’s newest friend at school, who livens up each moment he’s in.
I think the issue is that a coming-out story, to me, is not enough to make a compelling book. It’s interesting as PART of a story, but it’s not enough to make a book really sing. The fact that Ben is non-binary is interesting, but to me, it shouldn’t be the most important or defining thing about the character. There needs to be more of a trajectory for the story to move. Best example of this is Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, where, yes, the main character’s gayness was a huge part of the story, but it wasn’t what drove the action or the plot. In I Wish You All the Best, all of the action is driven by Ben’s decision on whether or whether not to come out. Because of that, the story felt like it was just going through the motions from beat to beat.
The Final Word:
Do I think it’s important that I Wish You All the Best exists? Yes. Do I think that teens will learn more about being queer from it, and how misgendering and pronoun use matters? Absolutely. But do I feel like I cared about the characters? Not really. In the end, this is a book about a kid who is struggling, who continues to work and struggle and represent themselves, who is lucky to have a sister and friends who take care of them, and who gets a little happier in the end. It’s an okay book. But I hope that it’s just the beginning of books about non-binary characters written by non-binary authors.The Goodbye Summer Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books | Audible
Sarah Dessen meets Morgan Matson in the perfect summer debut about learning to say goodbye—or finding a reason to stay.
Caroline is counting the days until September, when she'll turn seventeen and she and her older boyfriend, Jake, will run away together. She doesn't feel connected to anyone at home now that she has him, and she can't wait to see the world with the most important person in her life. So with just a few more months until freedom, she spends her summer working at the local aquarium gift shop and dreaming of the fall.
Then she meets Georgia, a counselor at the aquarium's camp, and Caroline's world changes. Through pizza lunches, trips to amusement parks, and midnight talks, Georgia begins to show Caroline there's more to life than being with Jake.
The stronger Georgia and Caroline's bond grows, the more uneasy Caroline becomes about her plans to leave. When summer comes to a close, she'll have to say goodbye to someone...but who is she willing to lose?
Review: The Goodbye Summer by Sarah Van Name
The Goodbye Summer is book about a toxic relationship, a great friendship, and the bitter sweetness of summer.
This is one of those books that gets that fleeting freedom and heavy weight of summer equally right. The atmosphere of the book alternates between the weight of sixteen year old Caroline’s decision to run away with her older boyfriend Jake at the end of the summer (without finishing high school), leaving her slightly oppressive parents behind; and the lightness of Caroline finding her first best friend Georgia – a soulmate who makes life at her aquarium gift shop job easier. The best part of this book is how smoothly it transitions between those two worlds. Caroline is swept away by how sexy and happy Jake makes her feel at first. And then the pivot to how honest and real her friendship with Georgia becomes is also very real.
The problem with this book, for me, was that it was not a fun summer read. I think I was expecting something lighter given the cover of the book. It was really hard for me to watch this toxic relationship develop and continue. So much of Caroline got swallowed by Jake and his manipulative nature. I think it’s important for books to show how easily a man can take advantage of a young girl. But I also think that the book let Jake off the hook too easily.
View Spoiler » Caroline is so swayed by Jake that even by the end, she’s still not totally clear on the ways that he took advantage of her. And we’re robbed of a full resolution for her. Their final confrontation happens sort of off-screen, with a time jump. We don’t get to see her be strong. I felt like this wasn’t enough. While it’s not the author’s job to teach, there is a responsibility to recognize that the audience for this book might still romanticize the choice of running away with one’s boyfriend to live alone in the world, needing only one another. It just wasn’t clear enough about the choice that Caroline ends up making. « Hide Spoiler
Did I think The Goodbye Summer was well-written? Yes. The writing was lyrical and gorgeous occasionally. That’s what saved the book for me. The characters were decent, but I didn’t fall in love with them.
The Final Word:
The Goodbye Summer is a decent summer library book if you’re looking for something a bit weighty. It’s not going to set the world on fire, but if you’re interested in darker, older YA that deals with toxic relationships, this might be for you.
There’s Something About Sweetie, I Wish You All the Best, and The Goodbye Summer are out in bookstores now. Have you read any of them? What are your favorite diverse reads? Fluffy reads? Hard-to-read-but-glad-you-read-them books? Hit the comments and let me know your thoughts.