A book review of The Donut Fix by Jessie Janowitz.
Sometimes sweet doughnuts are the only thing that can make a rotten situation better. When Tristan and his family move from the amazing city of New York to the old, middle of nowhere town called Petersville, Tristan feels like his life is over.
The Doughnut Fix by Jessie Janowitz focuses on Tristan, a Jewish 12-year-old from Brooklyn. When his parents announce they’re moving out to the middle of nowhere- a tiny town by the name of “Petersville”- he feels like the life he once knew is over. He’ll have to move away from New York City, and away from his best friend, Charlie. To make matters worse, Tristan’s parents announce that he and Jeanine, his 10-year-old sister, will have to do a homeschool project since they won’t be able to attend school for two months due to the abrupt move.
Jeanine immediately rushes into action creating a complex scientific and mathematical project, while Tristan goes with something completely different… making doughnuts. With the help of his new friend, Josh, Tristan starts a business selling chocolate cream doughnuts.
I loved the characters in this book. They all felt three-dimensional, like real everyday people.
I enjoyed Tristan’s calm nature as opposed to Jeanine’s frantic, jittery personality. Tristan, the book’s narrator, sounded so much like a 12-year-old boy. It isn’t easy to imagine how a 12-year-old would think and talk, but Jessie Janowitz really did pull off the prepubescent vibe.
This book takes you on a fun emotional rollercoaster. I felt Tristan’s fear when he and his siblings were just going on what they thought was a road trip and turned out to be a visit to their new home. I also felt his disgust when they saw the huge, hideous purple house they would now call home.
This book also tackled the difficult subject of friendships fading out. When Tristan lives in New York, he has a best friend named Charlie. While living in the same town, they seem like a really good pair of pals, but when Tristan moves, the friendship fractures.
In contrast, Jeanine’s best friend, Kevin, remains in touch even after she moves. Charlie and Tristan’s friendship slowly starts to fizzle when Charlie doesn’t reply to Tristan’s emails for days, and even when he does reply, he doesn’t seem at all interested in what Tristan’s up to.
Things get worse when Tristan receives a call from Charlie: Charlie and his family aren’t coming to visit Tristan’s family in Petersville for Thanksgiving. Charlie blabbers a bunch of lame excuses: his brother’s got the flu, his dad’s working really hard, Petersville is too far away. But Tristan sees right through it. They don’t want to come.
The last straw really got plucked when the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Tristan gets an email from Charlie. Expecting it to be an apology, he opens it excitedly. All he sees are three letters: “I MADE IT!!!!!!!” Charlie had passed the basketball tryouts. But he didn’t care about Tristan. Tristan spent the rest of the day depressed, reading under his covers.
A lot of kids think that all friendships will last forever. And, when some don’t, they blame themselves and get confused. It’s normal for relationships to fizzle out over time, especially when you grow up and start having your own opinions and values.
Luckily, all was not lost for Tristan. He made another friend, Josh, while in Petersville. Josh was kind and loyal to him and helped and encouraged him with his doughnut business.
One thing I really liked about the book was how the main character and his family were Jewish. I haven’t read many books with positive Jewish representation. Most of the Jewish-related books I’ve read have been about the Holocaust. Here, we see modern Jews doing modern things, and it’s nice to see yourself in a novel. It felt homey seeing words like “kreplach” on the page.
While the main character’s family is Jewish, there are not many Jewish references in the book. Yes, they do get Jewish food at a Jewish deli, and there is a section of the book reserved for Jewish recipes, but I found myself wanting more. There were details I found missing: maybe the writer could share how Tristan was preparing for his Bar Mitzvah, or mention how the family put up a new mezuzah on the doorframe of their new house. Overall, the Jewish aspect of the book was very underwhelming for me. I wanted more.
I enjoyed how Janowitz described the inner workings of starting a business, and all of the calculations involved. There was a lot of math and complicated details to consider when starting something like a doughnut business from the ground up.
I also appreciated the family dynamic. They were messy and imperfect, but it was obvious they all cared for each other and were trying their best.
In conclusion, I craved more Jewishness, but it was still a fun and humorous book. I’d recommend this novel to anyone who is a fan of food, especially chocolate cream doughnuts.
While there were many recipes in this book, I decided to try “Mom’s Molten Cake Chocolate Cakes.” It only required a few ingredients and was pretty easy and fast to make. It tasted sweet and crunchy on the outside, and the inside was light and airy. I would recommend it if you’re a fan of chocolate.