The Donut Trap Cover
Title: The Donut Trap
Author: Heat: PG-12
Genre(s): Romance Contemporary
Tags: f-m Asian immigrant Chinese refugee baking restaurant coming of age new adult
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Synopsis from the Creator:

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.

Review: The Donut Trap, by Julie Tieu

[fa icon="calendar"] Nov 12, 2021 9:45:00 AM / by Suzanne

I'm glad a couple of my reviewer friends read Julie Tieu's The Donut Trap before I did, because I went into this novel with the expectation that it's more a coming-of-age story than a romance. The romance between Jasmine and Alex is definitely a big part of the plot, but the novel is told from Jasmine's point of view and Alex is missing from chunks of the book. Instead, the relationship between Jasmine and her parents and Jasmine's overall post-college funk is the focus of the story and if you read it with the right expectations, it's a really solid debut.

Jasmine is the daughter of Chinese-Cambodian immigrants who've been through a lot both before and after immigrating to the United States, so she struggles to articulate her own needs while not coming off as ungrateful. She's worked in the donut shop her family owns for most of her life and she's disappointed to be back there after college. But how can she tell her parents how unhappy she is without dismissing their life's work? I really appreciated Aarya's review and how she gets into the immigrant family dynamics in the novel. If you're curious or if you've read it and want a nuanced perspective, check it out.

There are a lot of universal feelings in The Donut Trap. The years between 20 and 25 are usually a bit of a mess as people try to figure out who they are, what they want, and how to navigate relationships with their parents and friends as an adult. Tieu gets into some of the awkwardness of moving back to the town in which you grew up and re-connecting with friends after four years apart. She describes the modern struggle to get hired for any job without already having experience in that job. I found myself relating to so much of Jasmine's frustration and my heart went out to her when we learn of the moment in college when she finally broke after trying so hard to be someone she wasn't. We're really hard on ourselves sometimes and oof, it was well done by Tieu.

There are some funny moments and if you like donuts, there are lots of delicious descriptions of pastries. Mostly though, I think this is a great novel to pick up if you want a story about coming of age at 23 and finding love and hope on the other side.

Audio Notes: Natalie Naudus continues to be one of my favorite new narrators. Single narration worked well since the novel is single POV and I have no complaints at all. I listened at a slightly faster speed than usual because I think it's a little slower than others, but that's my only note!


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Content Warnings: references to Khmer Rouge and refugee camp, class prejudice (Alex's mom is not a nice person), Alex changes Jasmine's computer settings without her permission, alcohol poisoning: past, depression

I received a copy of this audiobook for review.

Topics: review