Julie Tieu's THE DONUT TRAP - A Sweet Romance Full of Heart
by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)
I absolutely loved this beautiful story, which I listened to thanks to Libro.fm and their ALC program. I've been in a little bit of a reading funk, but this one helped me along with my progress and left me ready to pop in my earbuds to do some more listening! (I was so surprised to see that this was a DEBUT! I can't wait to read more by Julie Tieu!)
The Donut Trap (Libro.fm | Bookshop.org) centers 22-year-old Jasmine Tran, a daughter of Cambodian refugees of Chinese descent who fled Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge genocide and found their way to America, where they own a donut shop. While their shop has a steady stream of locals and a solid business, they have not raised prices, included fancier options, or found their footing in the social media world. So with rent costs rising, Jasmine begins to worry that she'll never find her way out of helping her parents at the shop. She feels adrift after college, wondering how she will meet new people and find her way into a career outside of donuts. When Alex, a meet cute crush from college, reappears in Jasmine's life, she finds herself hopeful for the possibility of romance and more outside of the donut shop that has become her whole world.
Here are a few of the (MANY!) things that I loved about this book.
The donut descriptions are phenomenal. Matcha donuts, anyone? YES, please. To be honest, I'm not even a big donut person, and they are pretty low on my sweet treat hierarchy, but this book made me reconsider their position!
I loved the way both Alex and Jasmine are navigating how to live their own lives while also continuing to respect and honor their parents. Tieu gives thoughtful consideration to what it means for each of them to be the children of immigrants (from China and Cambodia respectively), and we as readers get to see them navigate those dynamics in their own ways (both in the present and as they think back on their childhoods).
The struggle that Jasmine has to find her way in a difficult job market is SO relatable! She's stuck doing what she's always done because she doesn't have the time or the flexibility to try new things, and she has to find a way to break that cycle.
I love Jasmine's relationship with her best friend Lin (whose family is Vietnamese) in this book! Their rock solid friendship is one of my favorite things, and I love how they support and understand each other.
Jasmine and Alex are adorable, but they also both have a lot of work to do to to be better partners, and I appreciate the honest way they both put in the work to find a way forward in their lives.
You can't go wrong with this sweet romance. (The comps for David Yoon's Frankly in Love and Kim's Convenience, both of which I absolutely LOVE, caught my attention... and fans of either of those will really enjoy this!) You'll find yourself rooting for the characters, even as you see them make mistakes, and you'll also enjoy the descriptions of the sweet treats!
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