Published by Avon on November 9, 2021
Source: Audiobook, Libro.fm
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary, Diversity, Own Voices, Romance
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Julie Tieu sparkles in this debut romantic comedy, which is charmingly reminiscent of the TV show Kim’s Convenience and Frankly in Love by David Yoon, about a young woman who feels caught in the life her parents have made for her until she falls in love and finds a way out of the donut trap.
Jasmine Tran has landed herself behind bars—maple bars that is. With no boyfriend or job prospects, Jasmine returns home to work at her parents’ donut shop. Jasmine quickly loses herself in a cyclical routine of donuts, Netflix, and sleep. She wants to break free from her daily grind, but when a hike in rent threatens the survival of their shop, her parents rely on her more than ever.
Help comes in the form of an old college crush, Alex Lai. Not only is he successful and easy on the eyes, to her parents’ delight, he’s also Chinese. He’s everything she should wish for, until a disastrous dinner reveals Alex isn’t as perfect as she thinks. Worse, he doesn’t think she’s perfect either.
With both sets of parents against their relationship, a family legacy about to shut down, and the reappearance of an old high school flame, Jasmine must scheme to find a solution that satisfies her family’s expectations and can get her out of the donut trap once and for all.
The synopsis of The Donut Trap reminded me a lot of A Pho Love Story, which is one of my favourite books of this year. Both books feature Asian-American characters who work at their family’s food business and a forbidden romance with another Asian-American character. But when I finished listening to The Donut Trap, that was really where the similarities ended. I was a bit underwhelmed by The Donut Trap and couldn’t connect with the main character, Jasmine.
The Donut Trap is pitched somewhat as a contemporary romance novel but the romance took a bit of a back seat to the other themes explored in the book… it’s really more of a coming-of-age book. And I was okay with that because I really wasn’t that much of a fan of the romance between Jasmine and Alex. I didn’t really think they had that much chemistry between them and we really didn’t see them interact that much at all. In addition to the romance, the book explores family dynamics and the immigrant experience. I absolutely loved these aspects of the novel because I felt like I could really relate to some of the aspects of the relationship Jasmine had with her parents. The way that Jasmine couldn’t really communicate her dreams and goals – and even who she is as a person – to her parents because of the language barrier was something I connected with on a deep level. I also really loved that the characters were going through a transition from finishing college to getting their first jobs. It’s one of the major themes in the book and I thought it was explored pretty well – especially Jasmine’s additional struggle of finding something that her parents approved of as well.
My biggest problem with the novel was that I found Jasmine quite frustrating as a character. While I can understand her general level of frustration with her parents and their control over her life, she came across as really self-righteous (both when it came to her relationship with her family and her relationship with Alex). Her attitude really irked me and the way that she blew up at others and expected them to come grovelling to her was quite offputting. I also felt like she had a lot of excuses and I couldn’t quite see how the “traumatic event” that kept being alluded to really factored into her slightly lackadaisical attitude to life.
Although there was a lot to like about The Donut Trap, it was hard for me to get past the lack of connection I felt with Jasmine. I also felt that some of the themes weren’t explored as far as they could have been, leaving me wanting a bit more by the time I got to the end.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thank you to Libro.fm for the free copy of the audiobook.
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