As a Bangladeshi woman who has never really seen her culture represented accurately in media or literature, I was beyond thrilled for the release of The Dos and Donuts of Love by Adiba Jaigirdar! It was in fact, number one on my list of most anticipated summer book releases of 2023. The story follows Shireen Malik, a Bangladeshi teenager being raised in Ireland, who gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in a reality TV baking show.
The only problem? Shireen’s ex happens to be competing too, and sparks are flying between Shireen and another competitor on the show, Niamh. But Shireen doesn’t have time for distractions–not if she wants to win the grand prize and bring some much-needed attention to her parent’s donut shop in Dublin.
A wonderful celebration of food and Bangali culture, The Dos and Donuts of Love by Adiba Jaigirdar is a light, fluffy, and delightfully sweet story featuring a plus-sized Bangladeshi teenager coming of age in Ireland, a sapphic second chance romance, and all the dramas you would expect from a high-stakes cooking competition.
Thank you so very much to Colored Pages, the author Adiba Jaigirdar, and Fierce Reads for giving me the chance to review this book!
~ The Dos And Donuts Of Love Synopsis ~
A pun-filled YA contemporary romance, The Dos and Donuts of Love by Adiba Jaigirdar finds a teenage girl competing in a televised baking competition, with contestants including her ex-girlfriend and a potential new crush – perfect for fans of The Great British Bake Off and She Drives Me Crazy!
“Welcome to the first-ever Junior Irish Baking Show!”
Shireen Malik is still reeling from the breakup with her ex-girlfriend, Chris, when she receives news that she’s been accepted as a contestant on a new televised baking competition show. This is Shireen’s dream come true! Because winning will not only mean prize money, but it will also bring some much-needed attention to You Drive Me Glazy, her parents’ beloved donut shop.
Things get complicated, though, because Chris is also a contestant on the show. Then there’s the very outgoing Niamh, a fellow contestant who is becoming fast friends with Shireen. Things are heating up between them, and not just in the kitchen.
As the competition intensifies, Shireen will have to ignore all these factors and more― including potential sabotage―if she wants a sweet victory!
~ The Dos And Donuts Of Love Book Review ~
Recommended Age Group: 13 and up Trigger Warnings: Mentions of racism and fatphobia, depictions of anxiety (specifically anxiety and panic attacks and spiraling thoughts), and online harassment
If you are looking for a fast-paced romance with tons of drama, then you will love The Dos And Donuts of Love by Adiba Jaigirdar. The story kicks off pretty quickly: the book opens with our protagonist Shireen Malik grieving over her breakup with Chris Huang, while Shireen’s best friend Fatima tries to comfort her even while she is on a trip to visit her relatives in Bangladesh.
But then Shireen gets an email confirming that she’s been selected as a contestant for the Junior Irish Baking Show, and things get moving even faster. Not only is she partnered with her ex for the first round of the competition–but she also runs into a very competitive contestant Niamh, who seems to be interested in more than just Shireen’s skills as a baker.
I personally loved the setting of the cooking competition in the story–while I am not a regular viewer of reality TV, I have watched a few seasons of MasterChef Australia (especially the one where our very own Kishwar took the stage by storm), and I loved the way Adiba Jaigirdar brings the tensions of reality TV onto the pages of the book.
There’s drama in The Dos And Donuts Of Love, there’s sabotage, there’s the ugly side of all the things that happens between edits and the final airing of an episode, and through it all, we find Shireen and Chris struggling to remain authentic and true to themselves.
The challenges that Shireen faced in the competition were fun and familiar to anyone who has ever watched The Great British Bake Off or MasterChef, and I loved the references to Gordon Ramsey through the character of Galvin Cramsey, the third judge in the competition.
I also loved how Adiba Jaigirdar does not shy away from showing how violently negative people can be towards the presence of colored people in media–especially when they do not fit the narrative that they have been used to. There are several instances where we see Bangladeshi culture being misrepresented as Indian; something that I grew up watching and noticed the most when Kishwar was competing in MasterChef Australia.
At one point in the story, Shireen has to outright clarify that she is Bangladeshi, not Indian, and the two are not at all the same. It’s a painful truth that even in 2023, people have to deal with microaggressions and outright racism, but at the same time, having these types of social commentary in film and literature is exactly what we need to put a stop to it.
The one thing that I felt was lacking was the presence and character development of the other competitors. While we do have Niamh, Shireen’s potential love interest, and Sean, an annoying self-assured white boy, I was expecting to see more interactions between Shireen and the other competitors on the show, considering the long time it takes for a cooking competition to finish preparing, filming and producing.
Similarly, I felt like even Shireen herself and her own love interests could have more character development. Throughout the course of the novel, we do see Chris and Niamh change dramatically; but it felt surface level at best. We are told by the characters what their motives are, but we don’t really see why the stakes are so high for either of them.
And Shireen herself did not go through any character development, which is why The Dos And Donuts Of Love is a 4-star book for me. She is a very flawed protagonist–she is selfish, mean, and overdramatic; but all of that is fine with me. I don’t mind an unlikable main character, as long as there is some kind of change in her by the time the story ends: she could even become the villain, like Adelina from The Young Elites, but there needs to be some kind of arc.
Unfortunately, that does not quite happen here. Not only does Shireen never really get properly called out for her flaws and hurtful actions, but she also doesn’t really redeem herself.
Ultimately though, what I loved the most about this book is the nuanced and accurate representation of Bengali culture–and the way the author reflected all that’s wrong with a traditional Bengali society as well as all the things that are right with it too.
Although my experiences as a Bangladeshi woman is quite different from that of Shireen’s—I was born and raised here, while Shireen is a second-generation Bangladeshi immigrant in Ireland–it was wonderful to see many beautiful and accurate references to my homeland and culture in this novel.
From the references to popular Bangali foods like kalo jam, chomchom, and bakhorkhani, to some of the most well known sweetshops in the country like Bonuful and Premium, and clear examples of Bangali hospitality, there were several times when it felt like the author was weaving her love for Bangladesh cleverly throughout the story.
And the one thing that the author absolutely touched on perfectly is the way Bangali families express their love. While we see Fatima experience that love from her cousins in Bangladesh by going on trips with them and attending weddings, we also see the way Shireen’s parents express their love–by making her favorite meals, by dropping their daughter off to the bus station and inviting all their Bangali neighbors to watch the episodes together.
Of course, it’s not all perfect. Adiba Jaigirdar does point out the homophobia and fatphobia that’s inherent in our culture. In fact, this book, with its lesbian main character and sapphic romance, would never have been published in Bangladesh. And while homophobia and fatphobia seems to exist in every corner of the world, I did love the fact that at least in The Dos and Donust of Love, we see how incredibly accepting Shireen’s parents are about her sexuality and choices.
All things considered, I really enjoyed this book and managed to finish it pretty quickly; the story is fast-paced and action-packed, and therefore a perfect summer read! It would have been a solid 5-stars for me if there was a little more character development, but I would still strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance.
~ Meet Adiba Jaigirdar, Author Of The Dos And Donuts Of Love ~
Adiba Jaigirdar is the critically-acclaimed and bestselling author of The Henna Wars and Hani & Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating. A Bangladeshi/Irish writer and teacher, she has an MA in Postcolonial Studies from the University of Kent, England and a BA in English and History from UCD, Ireland. All of her writing is aided by tea, and a healthy dose of Janelle Monáe and Hayley Kiyoko. When not writing, she is probably ranting about the ills of colonialism, playing video games, or expanding her overflowing lipstick collection.
~ Check Out The Tour Stops For The Dos And Donuts Of Love ~
Yourlocalbookreader – Review
Sanjariti – Review & favorite quotes
Utopia.state.of.mind – Review
Wilted Pages – Review
krithiques – Review
@sagarific – Review & playlist
@allielovestoread – Review & favorite quotes
@annas_sweets_and_stories – Review
Foreverinastory – Review & moodboard
@inkingandthinking – Review & playlist
@emm_reads – Review
@lgbtrepinbooks – Review
@sritamasen_ – Review
@NicolettaWrites – Review
Readwithchan_ – Review
@read_with_kate.16 – Review
Popthebutterfly – Review
@not.just.fiction – Review
Have you read The Dos And Donuts Of Love by Adiba Jaigirdar? Share your thoughts in the comments below!