When Sweetie Nair embraces her identity as a fat person, the results lead to a Bollywood-style romance.
Indian-American Sweetie is fat. She’s also a star athlete, a talented singer, and a straight-A student, but somehow, her body always seems to eclipse everything else. So when handsome, wealthy star basketball player Ashish Patel’s mother approaches Sweetie’s mother to set the two teens up on a date and Sweetie’s mother turns her down because of Sweetie’s weight, Sweetie decides that it’s time to take her life into her own hands. Step No. 1 in the Sassy Sweetie Project: Date Indian-American Ashish behind her parents’ backs. At first, Sweetie does this to prove her self-worth, but when the teens begin to fall for each other, she realizes that Ashish’s baggage, rather than her own, might be the real obstacle. Although it is refreshing to see a fat person of color as a romantic lead, Sweetie’s intuitive wisdom makes her seem almost magical, masking opportunities for nuance in her journey. At times, the prose is pedantic, listing the trials and tribulations of being a fat person rather than weaving it into the action. The contradiction is particularly visible since, by contrast, Ashish’s character trajectory delves deeply and believably into his vulnerability. The romantic scenes are a lot of fun to read but are not enough to carry the book.
An entertaining romance that could have benefited from more character development. (Romance. 14-18)