The Donut Trap
- Author: Julie Tieu
- Genre: Romance
- Publication Date: November 2, 2021
- Publisher: Avon
CONTENT WARNING: fatphobic comments, substance use
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.
I just need to start this off by saying that this book had me craving donuts HARDCORE. And there was so much that I loved about this book, and it definitely didn’t hurt that it was narrated by one of my favorited narrators, Natalie Naudus. She’s got a voice that is perfect for rom-coms, and she did such a great job with this one.
I loved Jasmine Tran’s character so much, and could identify with a lot about her. She’s so delightfully awkward, and struggling to make her way in life after graduating college. In addition, she’s got the added burden of being a first generation American, and her parents are Chinese-Cambodian refugees. As the child of a refugee, it always puts your own struggles into perspective, and makes it difficult to relate these struggles to your parents, who may view them as not that big of a deal after what they’ve faced. So there’s a disconnect between what Jasmine is going through and her ability to talk about these things with her parents.
However, I loved the way her relationship with them is portrayed. She isn’t resentful of them, and her gratitude towards them is clear. But it kind of makes it so that she has to go through some of these struggles with very little support, especially when it comes to her personal life. Which … at the moment? Is completely taken over by her work at her parents’ donut shop.
The connection that arises between Jasmine and Alex is absolutely wonderful! It developed organically and moved at exactly the right pace. The witty banter felt so realistic, and I loved that they faced both internal and external challenges. Each of them brings their own baggage to the relationship, as well as family issues that create friction for them, and part of the amazing story is how they navigate these problems.
This is definitely not a book to miss, and I’d highly recommend listening to the audiobook if possible. Natalie Naudus did a great job, and she’s easily one of my favorite narrators. While there’s a great romance, there isn’t too much spice, making this a perfect read for just about everyone.
Categories: Book Review