Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto and read by Risa Mei
This delightful choice functions on many levels. First, it’s a funny, madcap, fast-paced adventure. It’s also a romantic comedy with the traditional formula of girl meets boy; girl rejects boy because of feelings of familial obligations; girl bumps into boy years later in the middle of trying to hide a dead body. It’s also an exploration of the cultural demands on a young Chinese Indonesian American woman living in Southern California. Narrator Risa Mei expertly speaks the Indonesian and Chinese words sprinkled throughout as well as the broken English Sutanto uses for the Aunties.
I appreciated Sutanto’s author’s note that explains, “Their grasp of the English language is not a reflection of their intelligence, but a reflection of the sacrifice they have made for us. They are, in essence, trilingual, and I am so proud of this heritage.” Sutano expands on this point in a recent piece in Cosmopolitan. While the audiobook is undeniably entertaining, serious topics of filial piety, saving face, and strong belief in curses and superstition are woven into the plot.