Jas Tran comes from a Chinese-Cambodian family; one that is heavily invested in seeing her settled with a secure job and a partner (who, of course, has to come from a good Asian family). Jas, for one, is ready to stop working at her parents’ doughnut shop and follow her own path.
When she is reminded of a college crush after years, and her best friend’s meddling brings him right to their doughnut shop, Jas finds the opportunity to once and for all live life on her terms.
There are a couple of things about this book that sold me on the idea of picking it up asap. For starters, it involves a doughnut shop. And not just as an underlying element but one that is focused on throughout the novel. Yup, if you have a sweet tooth, get ready for some real hunger pangs when you read about all the drool-worthy doughnuts they make.
Secondly, it tells the story of a young Asian woman who has been raised adapting to more than one culture. I was certain that I would be able to relate to several sentiments and experiences that are common across Asian identities. That, I was definitely right about!
Unlike what I’d imagined, the doughnut shop in this novel symbolizes the struggles immigrants sometimes face. Jas’ mother in particular has an austere attitude regarding keeping shop. They work round the clock to be able to save comfortably, even if that comes at the cost of one’s mental peace or leisure time.
While their mindset is in a way understandable, you can’t help feel for them, especially Jas.
She has been portrayed as the dutiful daughter who has always tried to appease her parents and pay heed to what they say. The dissatisfaction at not making her own choices is something that soon begins to manifest in her behaviour.
In addition to this predicament, there’s also the problem of her not being able to find a job that she is passionate about. I’m sure many college graduates would relate to her when she talks about the difficulty of having a calling or finding opportunities to prove her capabilities.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but I kind of found Jas’ best friend Linh to be annoying. Her behaviour felt too over-the-top.
Although a significant aspect of this novel has to do with Jas’ love life – with Alex Lai (the college crush) or Michael (the former boyfriend who too makes an appearance) – it wasn’t the highlight of the book for me.
Apart from the reasons I’d mentioned above, I mainly appreciated reading about their family dynamics, even though it hasn’t been portrayed to be always perfect. Plus, the couple of BTS references were a delight too!
Overall, it’s a decent read; not one that is high up on my recommendations list but I enjoyed it enough to not DNF it. Either way, if you do enjoy reading such books, you might also like Sweethand by N. G. Peltier.