June 22, 2022

REVIEW The Donut Trap by Julie Tieu

The Donut Trap by Julie Tieu
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: November 19, 2021
Format: eBook (Personal Library) + Audiobook (Borrowed from Library)
Publisher: Avon Books 

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Julie Tieu’s The Donut Trap is an endearing, laugh-out-loud contemporary romance read. Our main character, Jasmine has worked for her parent’s donut shop for as long as she can remember. She started helping when she was young (often translating for her parents as many children of immigrants do), and now that she’s graduated college she’s there all the time. She crosses paths with an old college crush, and Jasmine must quickly figure out how to make all the different parts of her life work together (or risk disappointing everyone, and herself, in the process). 

The dynamic between Jasmine and her family is one of the best parts of the book. The romance is endearing, but it wasn’t what sold me on the story. Like many parents, Jasmine’s parents have expectations and hopes for what they want for her future. The weight of those expectations falls heavy on Jasmine’s shoulders, especially when they are contrasted with what she wants. They have some very important conversations in the book that any reader can connect to and empathize with (no matter what cultural background you hail from). I can’t comment from the perspective of being an #OwnVoices reader, but it seemed like an accurate representation of what I’ve learned about the diaspora experience. Never fear though - there are plenty of humorous moments to balance the serious ones! Ms. Tieu does a great job balancing the moods and vibes throughout the book. 

In addition to relating to Jasmine’s family dynamic, I also connected to her lack of surety about what she wants to do. I’ve been there, and I felt for her. Once you graduate college, everyone expects you to know what you want to do but that's usually not the case. Sometimes you have to try a bunch of things to figure out what you like. Jasmine’s parents didn’t really get that until the end of the book. One particularly poignant quote that I connected to is, “Why did everything have to have an end goal in mind? What was the problem with doing something for the sake of doing it? How would I know I liked something if I didn’t try it?” I felt very seen while reading these lines. 

I loved the audiobook version of The Donut Trap immensely (I’m a big fan of reading a print copy of a book while I listen to the narration). The narrator, Natalie Naudus, did a great job bringing the characters to life. I had trouble resisting the urge to go get a donut (with all the different varieties that were brought up), but it was well worth it to finish the book. I also wanted to note (for anyone who may be curious) that the romance in this book is fade to black (any sex scenes are implied and not described in detail). If it were a movie, I’d rate it at PG-13.

Altogether, The Donut Trap was an entertaining, cute, and fun read. I’d recommend it to those who want a book that’s a cross between a contemporary adult romance and a women’s fiction book. I’m eager to read whatever Julie Tieu may write in the future after finishing this book - I already have her next release, Circling Back to You, on my TBR (at the time of writing this review, it was set to come out in July 2022).

CONTENT WARNINGS: references to Khmer Rouge, references to alcoholism (heroine once passed out due to alcohol poisoning during college), fatphobic language, references to drug use

About the Author

Julie Tieu is a Chinese-American writer, born and raised in Southern California. When she is not writing, she is reading, on the hunt for delicious eats, or dreaming about her next travel adventure. She lives in the Los Angeles area with her high school crush husband and two energetic daughters.

Instagram: @julietieuwrites
Twitter: @julietieu

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