cover image The Donut Trap

The Donut Trap

Julie Tieu. Avon, $15.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-306980-0

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. [em]Agent: Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary. (Nov.) [/em]