Review: 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 had mixed feelings about this book as I read it, and since finishing it, I haven’t really thought about it at all. It’s not that I didn’t like it. I just didn’t have strong feelings for the characters like I thought I would. However, I did like some parts of the setting and plot.

Right away I felt for Jasmine and her situation of feeling stuck in life. She’s in a rut a little over a year after graduating college, and seems to have no desire to change it. At least, that’s what her parents think. She actually does want to get out on her own and do her own thing, but she can’t seem to get away from the donut shop her parents run, especially when they’re not doing so hot financially with it. Basically, she feels trapped, and I didn’t blame her at all. Her parents were tough to deal with – they wanted her to get out and support herself, but they also never really gave her time off from working at the donut shop.

Jasmine was kind of back and forth at times with her feelings about her life. On one hand, she really wanted to get out of her parents’ grasp and live her own life, but at the same time she was content with her daily routines after work. She only seemed to want to break from her shell once Alex came into the picture, which makes it feel like if he hadn’t shown up, Jasmine would’ve stayed in her bubble forever. What I did like about her character was that even though she wanted out of the donut shop business, when she learned her parents’ store was struggling, she was quick to start forming ideas on how to save it – including some new donut flavors and starting an online presence for them.

Another aspect of this book I appreciated was Jasmine and Alex’s family culture. The pressure Alex had on him to find a successful mate was apparent, as was Jasmine’s pressure of finding someone who was preferably Chinese. This meant some lying and sneaking around in their pasts and even being together, which of course led to problems later in Jas and Alex’s relationship. I loved how Alex’s grandmother broke that stereotype of wanting him to have a successful mate and just find someone that he loved. There should’ve been more of his grandmother in the story.

However, as much as I enjoyed the characteristics that drove the story, it just fell flat in a way because the characters sort of did. I did feel some sympathy for Jasmine’s situation, yes, but I didn’t care much for her as a character. It was the fact that she complained and didn’t really do anything about it until a guy came into the picture, mainly. I don’t really know how else to explain my ‘blahness’ for this book, other than I just didn’t love the characters like I had expected to.

It’s a good read, overall, and it really made me want donuts as I read it (which is unfortunate as I found out I’m diabetic right as I started this book). But I was left with mixed feelings about it afterward, and had even considered not finishing the book a few times, but pressed on because, again, I did like what drove the story.

Rating: 2.75/5 stars

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