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.
A floundering heroine struggles to create a meaningful life for herself outside of her immigrant parents' expectations in Tieu's meandering debut. Jasmine "Jas" Tran's parents set up Sunshine Donuts in an L.A. suburb after fleeing the Khmer Rouge and immigrating to the U.S. Jas has worked there since childhood, and after burning out on the pre-med track during her senior year at UCLA, she returns to the shop full-time, giving her parents more opportunities to critique her lack of social life, career, and boyfriend. Enter Jas's old college crush, Alex Lai. The pair start dating, but Alex's own struggles with his Chinese immigrant mother lead to an unfortunate dinner argument that aggravates Jas's insecurities about her career. The narrative gives ample time to the fraught relationship between Jas and her parents, but at the expense of developing the romance between Jas and Alex, who bond over their similar traumas, but share little else. Meanwhile, the friend ex-machina through which Jas eventually finds professional fulfilment strains credulity. Still, the diverse cast and deliciously described donuts make up for some of these flaws. Readers looking for slow-paced, low-stakes romance should find plenty to enjoy.)