This review is in advance of publication. The Dos and Donuts of Love by Adiba Jaigirdar will be out June 6, 2023. I received this ARC from Netgalley, so it fits the “freebie” theme.
This book was a lot of fun!
Teenaged Shireen Malik, daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants to Ireland, is depressed from a recent breakup and because her best friend, Fatima, is spending the summer in Bangladesh with her family. Shireen is propelled out of her doldrums when she’s chosen for a junior baking show, but less thrilled when she learns her ex-girlfriend, Chris Huang, will also be a contestant. Can they learn to at least be friends again? What baking challenges await? Will Shireen’s baking experience pay off in a win that will help her parents’ donut shop stay open? Stay tuned!
I was initially drawn to this book by the baking show plot element. The fictional Junior Irish Baking Show mashes up elements of several different types of reality shows: a confessional booth for the contestants, weekly impromptu challenges (no pre-planning for the bakers), and different rules for different episodes. There are punning nods to real world celebrities Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry, and Gordon Ramsay.
Fictional Padma Bollywood, one of the show judges, is Shireen’s favorite professional chef, and their relationship offered a nuanced exploration of the value of mentorship and how race and culture figure into that. When racist trolls target Shireen and Chris, the only contestants of color, on Twitter after the first episode, they’re upset by how their fellow contestants are dismissive of the abuse. Padma is able to support them when others don’t, and later is able to leverage what power she has in helpful ways which I will not spoil here. I loved the contributions of supportive adults, especially Padma and Shireen’s parents, to the story.
Chris and Shireen have a hint of a Romeo and Juliet vibe (minus the tragedy!), in that their parents own rival donut shops across the street from each other, and they first interact via conflict. Both shops are suffering from declining business when the book opens; I loved the way those issues were resolved, as well.
Overall, I loved this book and would definitely read more by this author. I’ve been burned out on Young Adult for quite a while, so I was especially happy to read a teen romance that felt fresh and new.