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The Donut Trap

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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.

368 pages, ebook

First published November 9, 2021

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About the author

Julie Tieu

3 books289 followers
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.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,016 reviews
Profile Image for Meg Cabot.
Author 284 books33.6k followers
June 1, 2021
Loved this book! Such a cute romance, but the main character navigating her way through life after college was what REALLY hit home for me! So dead on. And her family was to die for. I want to live in LA and run a donut shop now (but with her family, not mine. Love you fam, but no).
Profile Image for emma.
1,823 reviews48k followers
April 12, 2022
This book's crimes were twofold:
1) It made me drastically need to eat a donut, in the donut desert that is my current world, and
2) I didn't like it.

Hard to say which was more difficult to endure.

This involves a very annoying protagonist with very little to offer who is still somehow out-annoying'd and out-unappealing'd by her love interest, and also they have quietly somehow been obsessed with each other for many years, and also there's this weird love triangle for no reason.

I'm not saying that only people who have their sh*t together deserve love, because I am obsessed with myself and I am someone who can thrive in no more than 1-2 life categories at once, if there are approximately 8 life categories, but I AM saying that reading about a passionless woman in her mid-twenties who lives at home and is more guided by her mom than most high schoolers I know...is not fun.

Even if she's falling in love.

Especially if the person she's falling in love with is also not fun, and also neither is their romance.

And I need a donut yesterday.

Bottom line: A book that only made me think about what it and I were missing! (Every aspect of a good love story and a ring-shaped pastry, respectively.)


well now i'm sad for two reasons (this was bad and i have no way to eat a donut rn)

review to come / 1.5 or 2

tbr review

few things get my attention more than donuts. in books and in life
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,065 reviews3,607 followers
October 30, 2021
For the love of donuts!🍩🍩🍩

Jasmine has worked in her parents donut shop for… well, her whole life. Even now, after college Jasmine is still expected to spend all her remaining time helping her parents run the store. As the daughter of immigrant parents, the responsibilities and expectations of her were enormous. Her own dreams, wishes and needs take a backseat.

After a chance reunion with a previous college crush, Jasmine’s hopes for a real chance at happiness are re-ignited. Fingers crossed her family will accept him.🤞

Totally loved the premise for this book. As a daughter of an Immigrant parent I completely understood the extra pressures Jasmine faced. I just would have liked to have felt her struggle to come into her own a bit more.

The romance also was a bit lacking. I didn’t feel the chemistry between Jasmine and her new beau. It came off as an awkward romance.🤷🏻‍♀️

This is definitely a contemporary, women’s fiction novel. But I’d be hard pressed to classify it as romance. Just my opinion. There are many reviews that felt the 💞 that I missed.

Posted to: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend...

Thank you to libro.fm
Profile Image for L.A..
392 reviews83 followers
November 10, 2021
3.5* Why would you choose this book? Because this girl loves donuts🍩
Jasmine portrays her Asian culture in a dynamic pledge to her immigrant family. When their little donut shop faces financial difficulties due to a rent increase, she finishes college and chooses to put her career on hold and work for them. The devotion to her parents is hard to find in our society.

Jasmine's parents have expectations, including her dating experiences. She hid the fact she had dated someone, but now they want to arrange a relationship to a cousin. This is where the loyalty ends. Without disrespecting them, her best friend reminds her of all the friends she could fix her up with to go through her social media and see if she finds anyone she might be interested in. That's when "window guy" comes into place. His real is Alex, also Chinese, and she knows him from washing windows at her college. She is totally interested in him. After a failed family dinner with both sets of parents, she is rethinking her dating experience.

This is a cute rom-com, although it is lacking in romance, LOL....but it was a fun, decent read.

Thanks NetGalley, Avon and Harper Voyager for this request in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for aarya.
1,247 reviews
June 14, 2021
2021 Spring Bingo (#SpringIntoLoveBingo🌷): Flowers

Content Notes:

Not recapping the premise or plot, but here are my main takeaways:

I went into THE DONUT TRAP with completely wrong expectations, realized my mistake halfway through, recalibrated, and ended up enjoying it. The story excels at two things, which are so good that it makes up for my main critique/frustration with the book.

1) The tension between first gen immigrant parents and Americanized 2nd gen children who can barely speak their parents' language. Jasmine's parents have Chinese ancestry but grew up in Cambodia, fleeing the Khmer Rouge to stay with relatives in Vietnam before moving to the USA as refugees. I've often thought that balancing this tension without villainizing the parents is a hard, hard task for writers. Julie Tieu executes it perfectly. Despite every resentful aside that crosses Jasmine's mind, she genuinely adores her parents. She chafes under their expectations while appreciating their sacrifices. There are no villains or heroes here: both Jasmine and her parents mess up and (understandably, if wrongly) say cruel things. There is a huge experiential/communication gap as both parties struggle to be honest with each other and voice their feelings in a way that the other party can understand in their non-fluent language.

I never felt that the dynamic was toxic or unfixable. Families are hard, immigrant families doubly so. I don't want to spoil all the parts I loved, but this was the best part of the book and I was so impressed by the nuances. I can't perfectly grasp Jasmine's specific diasporic narrative as it's not my cultural background, but there were enough "yep, this part is familiar " twinges to affect me emotionally.

I understood the subtext. I should have been able to keep up and toughen up. To her, it was a simple observation, a matter of fact. To me, it was yet another unnecessary reminder that my life, my work will always pale in comparison to those of my parents. I knew this very well. It didn’t bear repeating. Wasn’t that the point, though? Wasn’t that the narrative for every immigrant and refugee who had come to the United States? To come and build a better, safer life for yourself and your family? If the measure of success was that I was living a more comfortable, easier life than they had, then why was I simultaneously penalized for it? These questions rang in my head, but they were better left unspoken unless I wanted to add inconsiderate and ungrateful to my list of shortcomings.

2) Jasmine as a 22 year old mess, both in college and post-graduation. The feeling of helplessness, of lacking skills, of wondering why all your high school friends are moving on to exciting careers while you're despairing what the point of college even was... yeah. Julie Tieu really nailed it, lolsob. Maybe you won't relate if you haven't gone through this specific post-graduate languishing, but I sure as hell did.

“It's hard to talk positively about something that I had to do, you know? Am I happy that I helped bring more business to the shop? Yeah, but it’s a means to an end. Even this job—which I’m not qualified for—is just a way to get out of the shop, but I know I can’t say that when they ask me why I’m interested in working there or what my passion is. What is my fucking passion, anyway? Breaking out of the shop without my parents questioning all my life choices? Which is fucking ironic considering all my life choices have revolved around the things they wanted. It’s all bullshit.”

The weakest part of THE DONUT TRAP is... and it feels weird to say this... the romance. Don't get me wrong. It is cute. I like Alex! I like Alex and Jasmine together! I like reading about their dates! I like their flirty texts and teasing! But the romance just wasn't AS good as my first two points. Alex, in particular, feels like an opaque character. It feels like Jasmine's parents are on page longer (or at least equivalent) compared to the love interest. Alex is literally in another continent for the last third of the book.

This is all fine, but not exactly what I expected. Then I recalibrated THE DONUT TRAP as a new adult, post-graduation coming-of-age story with a cute romantic arc. There are a few kissing scenes and a closed-door sex scene in the end. It's much more enjoyable if you consume the book via this lens.

Notes re: minor frustrations that didn't affect my rating:

- casual use of the ableist word "spaz" (heroine uses it to call herself clumsy). I really hope the word can be edited out in the next six months because most people I talked to agreed that the usage is offensive/unacceptable (similar to ret*ard, imo). Maybe people use it casually, but they really shouldn’t.

- spoilery complaint:

- There is a very weird, off-the-cuff remark where the hero says that he accessed the heroine's laptop (without permission and when she wasn't in her room) to enable her FaceTime settings. Um. WTF? This is a very odd and upsetting sentence that has zero relevance to the plot. I would be incredibly angry if someone changed a laptop setting without my knowledge! Just... edit this out, please.

- There are a lot of pop culture references (which didn't personally bother me because I am ambivalent) but I wonder if THE DONUT TRAP was first written 3ish years ago because some of it felt... casually dated. Just a sense that I got (you might disagree with me! I’m no expert). There are a few basic errors I caught — not a big deal, but the details have to make sense if you're going to include a pop culture reference. For example, the narrator says that one day she listened to a "Taylor Swift album that dropped out of nowhere."

Look, I don't know if this is a no-pandemic AU universe or set in summer 2019 (I suspect it is, because there's a reference to the song Despacito being popular two years ago). But Taylor Swift's only surprise albums are folklore and evermore in 2020, two albums that would not exist without a pandemic. Unless I wildly misread the book, there is no pandemic in THE DONUT TRAP! I swear I'm trying not to be nitpicky, but there are enough strange references/errors where I was like... huh, how does this work with the timeline, then? I'm not going to list them all in this review, but this aspect can benefit another edit. If you're going to use pop culture to flesh out your worldbuilding, the details have to make sense! Otherwise it's just going to irk readers who are familiar with that specific piece of pop culture. I also think some clarity wrt the year can be helpful. Is it summer 2019? Why not just say so, instead of vaguely alluding to songs being relevant two years ago (presumably in 2017, as that's when the song came out)?


I know my annoyances seem like a lot, but the voice and strengths of THE DONUT TRAP make it a four-star read for me. Certainly not devoid of flaws, but I had a lot of fun reading this debut. Excited to see what Julie Tieu writes next!

Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sasa.
248 reviews117 followers
August 8, 2021
I was really hyped for this book. Readers are so rarely treated to Southeast Asian stories centered around characters with a complex heritage. I'm not sure if it's Own Voices in that aspect because the author says in her bio that she's Chinese and born and raised in SoCal. I definitely feel the culture of San Gabriel Valley in this novel because I was raised there and it felt like The Donut Trap was made for me. Everything from the food, language, and the family mannerisms—it's everything us Southeast Asian kids could relate to. Unfortunately, those were its only strengths.

The "slice of life/coming of age" genre is usually my cup of tea, but this was bloated with awkward lulls while the reader is trapped inside Jasmine's mind (the protagonist). When men enter her life, she becomes manic, irrational, and creepy. For example, she broke a ton of work protocols to search for an attractive customer's personal information which is just like...don't do that??? She has an equally unhinged, invasive, steamroller for a friend who encourages this kind of behavior. Jasmine's thoughts read like a chaotic YA protagonist's but written in the style of Sophie Kinsella or Meg Cabot. To some, this may be appealing but it was a tremendous slog for me to get through. There was also a disappointing lack of romance considering that's how the book was being marketed. I often found the parents and their love to be more interesting than the main character's—which is something I shouldn't be feeling considering they're the reason for much of the conflict!

I appreciate that this book exists. Had I read it in the 2000's, I would have been smitten. Unfortunately, it doesn't do it as a 2021 novel. It could be great as an indie movie script but that's wishful thinking. I'll continue to keep an eye out for Julie Tieu's future projects because I really appreciated the memories and emotions she brought out in me, reminding me of my childhood in San Gabriel Valley. At worst, The Donut Trap is a book with a desire to be more than its meandering moments. At best, it's a beautiful love letter to working class, Southeast Asian immigrant parents.
Profile Image for Avani ✨.
1,583 reviews326 followers
January 27, 2022
It was adorable. I enjoyed reading this.
The audiobook was average. Wasn't bad, but the plot was kinda predicable.
Profile Image for Katie B.
1,291 reviews2,961 followers
December 6, 2021
The Donut Trap is a decent read but I think it would have benefitted from fully developed storylines. It's a shame because the author brought some interesting things to the table but it just didn't have a top-notch presentation. Part of the problem is it is difficult to define whether the book falls in the romance genre or if it's a coming of age story. It just drifts from one thing to the next.

Jasmine Tran graduated college but with no job prospects, she is back to working at her parents' donut shop. She really hasn't pinpointed what she wants to do with her life, but she knows this ain't it. Unfortunately, with the shop financially struggling she can't up and quit and leave her parents in a lurch. Perhaps, thing will eventually turn around in her favor especially when she runs into her college crush, Alex Lai.

Right off the bat, I loved the donut shop setting and was kinda impressed with my restraint in not making a donut run while reading this book. I also was into the chemistry between Jasmine and Alex in the beginning. However, by the end I didn't care one way or the other if they were going to make it as a couple.

The issue for me was when the story shifted away from the romance and moved towards Jasmine's relationship with her immigrant parents and her feeling lost when it came to having a career outside of the shop. I think it's great to add substance to a romance but I found it lacking in proper execution. It's pretty far into the story before I was able to get a better sense of why Jasmine was struggling post-college. And even then I can't say I fully understood everything about her and that has more to do with how she was written than anything else.

An okay read but it is slightly disappointing as the potential was there for something special but it fell a bit short.

Thank you to Avon for providing me with a copy! All thoughts expressed are my honest opinion.
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 58 books8,097 followers
July 28, 2022
This is really a coming-of-age NA story. There is a romance, and it's sweet and nicely done, but really the story is about the heroine finding a balance with her loved, loving, but difficult family, addressing her insecurities, forgiving herself for mistakes, and moving from post-college marking time into finding what she might want to do with her life as an adult. (She is tbh a bit of a mess in the aimless way of many post-college people, but that's literally the point.) The guy is a bonus, albeit an extremely likeable one: we don't really dig into his as a person, but it's not really his book.

The depiction of the Viet/Chinese/Khmer family was strong, in all the difficulties of generation gaps, culture clashes, and first gen immigration, never losing sight of them as flawed, loving people. A highly engaging story on its own terms. I will, however, admit that I've probably reached my limit with doughnuts/cupcakes/pie romances for a while. /brushes teeth vigorously/
Profile Image for Syndi.
2,895 reviews634 followers
March 1, 2023
The Donut Trap is OK read. I was expecting much more especially coming from Asian writer. Miss Tieu did touch diversity issue on her story but she did not dwell much into it.
Instead she is more focus on the rom com.

The chemistry between the characters are OK. The banter is fun enough to carry on their story. The story is typical.

3 stars
May 18, 2022

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It's AAPI month and I've been trying to read as many of the Asian-authored books on my Kindle as I can. I bought THE DONUT TRAP when it went on sale on Kindle a while back... and then never read it! I know, right? The shame! Especially since it's a food-themed romance and I tend to really love those, even though I'm not usually a fan of fluffy romance (food ones being the obvious exception).

Now that I've read it, I'm kind of surprised it has such low ratings! It's very cute and well-written and I really related to Jasmine, the heroine. The many donut references were also on point. That said, there were a couple flaws, so this ended up being a three star review. And you know what that means... it's a bullet-point review! HUZZAH!


👍 The anxiety rep. Honestly, I was surprised at all the hate Jasmine got as a heroine. I felt like her worrying and fretting and stalkerish tendencies were actually pretty accurate for someone (i.e. me) who obsesses over things. I could get on my soapbox and rant about how people take way less from heroines than they do from heroes, and basically seem to look for any excuse to hate on women in fiction for being too-too anything, but we'll save that for another time, yes?
👍 The donut references. I want a matcha donut right now, and let's leave it at that.
👍 The anxiety of being the person in your social circle with a "bad" job. I've been that person. It sucks when people you know are either happily married and/or working at a tech company, and you're the person who can't "adult" working minimum wage with a bunch of teenagers. Sometimes it's literally the only option apart from being unemployed and people judge you so hard for it. So I appreciated seeing that rep here, especially since the heroine went to a four-year college. A four-year college is not a guarantee of a job right after school.
👍 The romance. Alex was really cute and I liked his interactions with the heroine. I also like how they fight about realistic things and not ridiculous things for the sake of drama.
👍 The way the heroine's cultural heritage is integrated into the book. The heroine's parents are Cambodian refugees of Chinese descent who lived briefly in Vietnam, so they can speak Mandarin, Khmer, and Vietnamese. There's lovely descriptions of food (YAS FOOD), and the heroine also talks about the struggle of growing up and finding her own path while bearing the weight of her parents' struggle and hardships, and I feel like that message is probably going to resonate with a lot of people who are the children of immigrant parents. So that was kind of cool.


👎 The writing feels kind of immature. I think this is a reflection on Jas, who is immature, and that's okay because people grow and develop at all stages, but that being said, there is a very "YA" flavor to the writing that's kind of reminiscent of Meg Cabot's flighty, super breathless style of narrating. Everything is OMG!SUCH A BIG DEAL, even when it's not, and that can get exhausting.
👎 Fade to black sex scenes. Do they bang in this one? No, dear reader, they do not. I know some people don't like explicit romances, so if you're a younger teen reader looking for a mature romance without the spice, or just someone who doesn't enjoy graphic scenes, this is the book for you. For me, it was a bit disappointing to read a romance that didn't really delve much into the "romance" side of things.
👎 Um, closure? The whole Michael thing was weird and I felt like the whole sitch with Alex's ex-girlfriend was kind of glossed over. I kept waiting for something to happen but it didn't.

Overall, this was a pretty fun book and I'm really happy I read it. I think people who enjoy food-themed romance books will really enjoy this one, although WARNING: it will make you crave donuts.

3 to 3.5 stars

Profile Image for michelle (magical reads).
858 reviews219 followers
October 7, 2021
read on my blog

rep: Chinese-Cambodian-American protagonist and side characters, Chinese-American love interest, Vietnamese-American side character; (Chinese-Cambodian-American author)

Alex and I shared more than a mutual attraction. After Sunday’s revelation, I saw him as someone trying to figure out himself and his place in his family, just like me. How could I not have a soft spot for that?

As soon as I heard about this book when it was announced, I knew I had to read it! That desire turned out to be worth it because I absolutely adored this book. The Donut Trap follows Jasmine as she strikes up a romance with her old college crush, tries to keep her parents’ shop afloat, and most importantly, escape the donut trap.

A year after graduating from college, Jasmine Tran is back living at home, working at her parents’ donut shop. Although they continually nag her about finding a job and a boyfriend, she struggles to find something she wants to do, much as she hates working at the shop. Change comes when her friend Linh sets her up with her once college crush, Alex. Her parents disapprove of him, so she has to see him in secret while also helping keep the store afloat and trying to find another job.

From the very first page of this book, I was hooked. Jasmine’s voice shines off the page, and I heavily related to so many of her worries and experiences. She’s also so funny! You can’t help but root for her. This is Tieu’s debut, and I absolutely can’t wait to read more from her!

While this book is published as an adult title, I think it would benefit from also being shelved as new adult. Jasmine recently graduated from college and is struggling to find what she wants to do other than just leaving the donut shop. Also, this is a romance book and the romance is a major part of it, but it balances so many other things with the romance parts. I’ll try to expand on this in the rest of my review.

read my full review here

alternate review:

Okay, this book doesn't come out for 7 months but I NEED to share my love for it now! I was hooked from the very first page and genuinely couldn't put it down, which is a rare feeling for me now. Jasmine was such a relatable protagonist; her voice shines off the page and I can't wait to read more from this author!

While this is an adult romance, I think it would also benefit from being considered new adult. Jasmine is only a year out of college, aimless and struggling to find what she wants to do. Although the romance is a major part of this book, it also explores Jasmine's complex relationship with her refugee parents and how, even if she hates working at the donut shop, she doesn't want to let them down or leave them with so much work after they've worked so hard to provide for her and her younger brother.

I will say that I mostly expected a light rom-com just from the summary, mostly because it sensationalizes some of the events in the book. I mean, everything described does happen but I feel like it plays everything up. Anyways, I got something so much more multifaceted and lovely on top of the cute romance that I expected. This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year, and we're only about three months in. I can't recommend this book enough; add it to your tbr lists now!

original review:

this book was everything I ever needed oh my god we need more diasporic romance stories like this!!!
Profile Image for nitya.
361 reviews269 followers
April 26, 2022

I can see why people think it's a little dated (the Snapchat references and such), but also the publishing industry is slower than molasses and hates diversity 😩

Content warning: body shaming, fatphobia, toxic relationship with parent
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,717 reviews462 followers
November 3, 2021
This review can also be found at https://carolesrandomlife.com/

I had a good time with this book! I am somewhat impressed by the fact that I was able to resist the call of donuts despite being the fact that they were mentioned frequently throughout the story. And I do like donuts! I picked this book up because I was in the mood for something fun and light and this book fit the bill. I found this one to be a very enjoyable book.

Jasmine has always worked at her parent’s donut shop. She started helping out when she was young and now that she is out of college she is there all the time. Her parents are immigrants and have always worked hard and expected a lot of Jasmine and her brother. When it is announced that the rent on the donut shop is going up, Jasmine knows that they need to increase their revenue so she comes up with some new ideas with her brother’s help. When her path crosses with her college crush, Alex, sparks fly right away. But is he too good to be true?

I liked Jasmine a lot. The romance in this book is cute but it is just a small part of Jasmine’s journey in this story. Jasmine grows a lot in this book. She takes a lot of initiative with the donut shop and has some really important conversations with her parents. She also is working to find a job and move on from the donut shop. I did like the romance in the book and thought that Jasmine and Alex made a great pair once they worked through a few things.

Natalie Naudus did a great job with the narration of this book. I thought that she did a great job with these characters and I found her voice to be very pleasant to listen to for long hours at a time. I believe that her narration added to my overall enjoyment f the story.

I would recommend this book to others. I found this to be a very well done and entertaining story with fantastic characters. I will be looking out for more books by this talented author.

I received a copy of this audiobook from HarperAudio via Libro.fm.

Initial Thoughts
I liked this one quite a bit. The characters were easy to like and the narration was very well done.
Profile Image for elhyza.
240 reviews283 followers
October 13, 2021
3.5☆ — the donut trap was easily a book i found myself absorbed by with its witty relatable characters, setting locations i'm very much familiar with, fun romance and quite unexpected fast pacing. this book was definitely not romance focused completely but balanced the focus of family, love, and figuring out what to do with one's life on top of parental expectations. i do wish the romance portion was more drawn out, but nevertheless jas and alex made my whole heart burst. the drama, or big fight though there was multiple, hit the fan much sooner than expected and wish we got more moments of alexjas before that with how blissfully happy they were. jas' emotions toward her parents were completely understandable in some aspects, i'm proud she found her strength to be able to speak her mind more and in taking charge of her life's path despite her parents' input. o was so charmed by her best friend, linh, fellow army but who was the one able to put this whole story into motion honestly with setting her up with alex and being jas's number one supporter guiding her and being there whenever the other needed them. really would like to see more of these characters honestly with more depth and development to alexjas' relationship, how jas's dynamic with her family becomes and seeing her grow, and just her adventures with her friends and coworkers because she was just such an endearing character with the best dialogue. would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a quick read that's immersive in culture, setting, and family dynamic, charming characters and figuring yourself out with a dash of romance like frosting on top that's the best part!
Profile Image for Ms. Woc Reader.
489 reviews669 followers
October 6, 2021
I received an arc from Avon Books and Harper Audio for review

Jasmine Tran is trying to find her place in the world like most 20s somethings. She's living with her parents and working at their donut shop while she tries to find a job after college. She also ends up reconnecting with Alex, a guy from her college who she wanted to get to know but couldn't find the courage to. Alex checks off all her expectations for her perfect guy. He's cute, he's Chinese, and he has a good job.

Jasmine is awkward and a bit of a mess but endearing. She is the child of Cambodian immigrants with Chinese ancestry. It's very relatable how she navigates her more Americanized way of thinking while also taking into consideration what her parents want for her and the sacrifices they've made. She was not good at school despite how hard she studied at first and ended up going off the rails towards the end with partying and recreational drug use.

I think many people can relate to finishing college and then realizing they have no clue what they want to do with their lives. Then there's the struggle of finding a job when they want you to have years of experience which you can only gain by finding a job. While she's struggling she sees her peers moving on to great careers while she's wondering what the point of college was as she works a mundane job. Due to a rent hike she finds her parents leaning on her more than ever as she has to help them elevate the shop.

This is not a rom-com like the blurb suggests. And I know romance readers say this all the time about books but this was a book that didn't even feel like a romance. It was less about Jasmine and Alex's relationship and more about her personal growth and her familial relationships. I was not surprised to see it under the general fiction category on Netgalley because I definitely felt it belonged there alongside the women's fiction category. The romance is okay but it's not the focal point and it's more the driver for some of the drama with Jasmine and her parents. And then there was this meaningless reappearance of a high school ex that just wasn't necessary and very forgettable.
Profile Image for Amanda at Bookish Brews.
290 reviews168 followers
May 7, 2021
Warning: will make you crave donuts 🍩 IN THE BEST WAY?

Check out my full review here.

Sweet, relatable, funny, modern romance!

The Donut Trap was such a fun romcom. I was laughing right from the beginning. I completely related to Jas internal dialogue the entire time, and I was over the moon to see the small awkward moments of a young adult romance. And I totally went to the Asian owned donut shop near me while reading this, because it had me craving donuts so badly!

The Donut Trap follows a 22 year old Jasmine, who has recently graduated college and is back working at her parents’ donut shop while she decides what she wants to do with her life. But getting a job or a boyfriend isn’t so easy when your parents are constantly nagging you about it. Until the universe (or her best friend Linh) seems to be putting Alex, a long lost chance encounter crush from college, back in her path.

I was so happy to see the Southeast Asian representation in this book. I say that we don’t see that enough, but I’ve been reading so much of Southeast Asian rep that my soul feels more full. Jasmine’s family escaped Cambodia, lived in Vietnam for a while before finally making it to their final destination, Southern California. They opened a donut shop and have been running it for all of Jas’ life. I loved reading about the donut shop, because I’ve been in many donut shops that are exactly like the one described. I had to go to the Asian owned donut shop near me, where they had some of the same exact specialty donuts mentioned in the book. I was overwhelmed and it was so fun to feel like I was walking directly into this book. The descriptions of the shop and the family were so perfect, I knew exactly what to picture. I loved it. Read more...

*I received this book for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*

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Profile Image for gauri.
180 reviews393 followers
October 30, 2021
the donut trap is a sweet story about jasmine, struggling to find her footing post graduation. i could relate to her character — the parental expectations and the weird transition from college to corporate world, especially when you yourself don't know what it is that you want to do. her personal growth and familial relationships were good to read about. especially with her being a second generation asian-american immigrant child.

calling this a rom-com is misleading to be honest, its more of a coming of age novel with alex and jasmine's romance on the side. its cute, has some adorable moments but also the predictable romance tropes.

my gripe would be that this novel didn't really stand out for me — alex and jasmine resolving their breakup was rushed through (heck even their interactions felt off sometimes) and the narrative fell flat in places. i felt like jasmine wasn't trying to keep her life going in some instances.

overall i think this is pretty good for a debut, not something amazing but enjoyable if you're in the mood for something like this novel.

thank you edelweiss & harper collins for the arc!
Profile Image for Olivia (Stories For Coffee).
593 reviews5,608 followers
December 20, 2021
While this started out great and was a very enjoyable read, I just was not a fan of the romances that were introduced into the storyline because I didn’t feel like they had a lot of chemistry or shared similarities.

Some of Jasmine and Alex’s actions were very frustrating and unnecessary, and Jasmine’s life got cleaned up a little too easily for me towards the end.

Started out strong but had me feeling underwhelmed by the end.
Profile Image for Dann.
198 reviews12 followers
August 30, 2022
I'm sorry--I, respectfully, did not really care at all.

The only thing I liked was how clueless the MC was about what to do with her life. Relatable.
Profile Image for book bruin.
1,136 reviews282 followers
December 7, 2021
This was a cute book, but sadly I didn't love it as much as I hoped. I went into it expecting a fun and sweet romance and it actually ended up being more of a coming of age novel with a side of romance. I really related to and identified with Jasmine's struggle with her family and familial expectations. That aspect of the novel was written so well and many of the situations depicted in the novel mirrored my own personal experiences. As a Southern California native and UCLA alum, I loved seeing familiar landmarks pop up in the story, especially the ones related to UCLA.

Unfortunately, the romance aspect of the story fell flat for me and I never felt the connection between Alex and Jasmine. Jasmine is 22 years old, but her thoughts and actions often made her seem much younger. I found myself frustrated a lot by her behavior and I also wasn't a fan of the unnecessary drama caused by her ex. There is one closed door scene, but readers should know that The Donut Trap is more about Jasmine's journey to find herself and that romance is not the focus.

Audiobook Review
Overall 3 stars
Performance 5 stars
Story 2.5-3 stars

Natalie Naudus gave a fantastic performance. It was easy to distinguish between all of the different characters and I was especially impressed by how Jasmine's parents were voiced. Accents were handled with ease and I'm looking forward to listening to more audiobooks narrated by Natalie Naudus in the future.

CW: mentions of escaping the Khmer Rouge and being refugees, alcohol and drug use (resulting in hospitalization), mention of fat shaming

*I voluntarily read and listened to an advance review copy of this book*
Profile Image for Fanna.
992 reviews501 followers
Want to read
September 10, 2020
September 09, 2020: An ownvoices rom-com? working at a donut shop? reuniting with former crush? GIMME
Profile Image for nick (the infinite limits of love).
2,120 reviews1,349 followers
February 21, 2022

Oof, this book did such a beautiful job at capturing the uncertainties that can come after graduating college and not knowing what to do with your life. And the family dynamics and family pressure! When you're in school, it's the pressure to do well academically. Once you're out of school it's the pressure to find a partner and marry. Julie Tieu's writing voice is lovely and I look forward to reading more from her.
Profile Image for Mia.
2,223 reviews523 followers
April 10, 2021
The Donut Trap is deeply charming rom-com that left me hungry for some donuts !

This is perfect blend of family and romance which I find is a really hard thing to balance in a romance books.
The dynamic between Alex and Jasmine had me literally grinning from ear-to-ear at points. (What can I say? I'm a sucker for good banter.) Jasmine was such a great narrator and had great humor I love. Also,their romance was adorable.
Julie Tieu writing flows and shines with grace and I highly recommend this heartwarming debut filled with captivating characters and an enjoyable plot.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Avon and Harper Voyager for sharing this ARC with me in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Wendy W..
518 reviews116 followers
May 16, 2021
The Donut Trap by Julie Tieu is a very enjoyable light, funny, multicultural romance. And with a big donut on the cover, I just couldn’t resist this book. This is more than just a romance, it’s an emotional journey for Jasmine, and a journey for her family and her relationship with her traditional hard-working family.

After graduating from UCLA, Jasmine Tran is still working in her family’s donut shop in the suburbs of Los Angeles, instead of following her dreams. Except she doesn’t know what her dreams are, so her life is on a constant loop, of work, Netflix, and donuts.

When an old college crush shows up in her shop, her life begins to change. Alex is everything she’s been looking for, and everything her parents want her to marry. He’s Chinese and fluent in Mandarin, the language of her parents. But, after dinner with Alex, her parents, and his mother turns disastrous, Jasmine is not sure Alex is the man for her or she the woman for him. But, he’s made her realize she has to get her life in order before she can

This book has everything I like. A light sweet romance, a family that loves her daughter, but may not show always know how to show their love, and some fun friends to round out the story. I think a lot of people can identify with a woman who finds herself a bit lost after graduating college, and also feel indebted to her family. Jasmine has to find a way in life, and this is her story. I thought the pacing was good, and the characters were all well developed. I thought Jasmine’s relationship with her parents was complex, and Jasmine’s journey to understand herself and what she wants for herself involved understanding her complex relationship with her parents.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Profile Image for laurel [the suspected bibliophile].
1,410 reviews388 followers
December 22, 2021
Cute and quick audiobook!

I really liked Jasmine. While she wasn't perfect (who is?) and she made a hell of a lot of mistakes, she owned up to them and worked on making herself better and finding her own path, while also trying to maintain close ties to her family (and donuts). As the child of Chinese immigrants, she had to balance being a first generation American and the seemingly impossible expectations of her parents, made worse by a past mistake over a year ago that lost their trust in her and made her work in the family donut shop.

While I wasn't really sold on Jasmine's love interest Alex, he kinda warmed up to me, although honestly the book felt more about Jasmine's journey toward adulthood and finding her place (or a place) between American culture and the world of her parents. And, of course, navigating life after college and failed expectations/failure in general.

Plus, there are many, many donuts.
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,171 reviews250 followers
October 29, 2021
2.5 stars

While this was a perfectly average read, I severely lost interest in the last quarter that made the story drag. I can appreciate Jas' personal development- standing up to her parents and branching out on her own, I felt like she was given a pass for a lot of the same reasons she was upset with Alex (her love interest). And the final conflict was a bit convoluted and rushed leaving the story feeling slightly unsatisfying. But with the strong family focused- though frustrating at times - The Donut Trap is a well balanced contemporary romance.
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