Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love by Jared Reck

Hi All! It’s Becky. I just finished the audiobook of Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love by Jared Reck, and I was pleasantly surprised by this realistic fiction novel.

Title: Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love
Author: Jared Reck
Note: I listened to the audiobook.

Summary: High school senior Oscar Olsson has to decide what he is going to do with his life. Everyone in his life wants him to go to college, but Oscar wants to run his family’s food truck with his grandfather. Oscar spends his senior year deciding what he is going to do after graduation, which becomes more difficult when his classmate Mary Louise “Lou” Messinger recruits him to help with a service project. Can Oscar decide what will make him happy after school?

Review: I was surprised by Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love. I downloaded this audiobook on a whim, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the characters and their story.   Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love follow Oscar Olsson as he decided what he wants to do with his life after high school. Oscar has to make decisions about college, love, and a possible career. Oscar’s story sounds familiar, but the author used Oscar’s story to touch on themes not often found in young adult literature.  

Reck focuses much of Oscar’s story on what’s next step after high school. Oscar is not a good student, and he doesn’t want to go to a four-year college. In the book, Oscar is a gifted chef, and he loves to cook. Reck presents the idea of culinary school as a respectable option for his life. I loved how the author allowed Oscar to be successful and not go to college. Often in young adult books, the characters are expected to dive into a four-year college program even if they are the worst student. I wholeheartedly wish that more books presented alternative education options in a positive light. Also, Oscar and Farfar’s work on the food truck added a fun layer to a book that touched on darker issues. I enjoyed reading about their experiences as they made and served food as a team.  

I also appreciated the relationships in this book. The focus of the book is the relationship between Oscar and his grandfather that was perfectly developed. It is rare to see a loving and nurturing relationship in popular culture when the nurturer is male. I applaud Reck for how he depicted Oscar and FarFar. The author delved deeper into relationships through his depiction of the families you create. Biologically Farfar is Oscar’s only family, but when Oscar needed support many of his chosen family members there to help.  

Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love is a teen book, so of course, there is a romance. In this book, we meet Mary Louise “Lou” Messinger, a perfectionist who intrudes on Oscar’s kitchen time. At first, she comes across as a caricature of a perfectionist, but as you get to know her, she has just as complicated a backstory as Oscar. Their relationship developed slowly and avoids many of the familiar cliches of YA romance. Their evolution from friends to something more was realistic, and I would have happily read more.  

Yet, the book isn’t without faults. The ended didn’t work for me. I want a happy ending, sometimes I feel as if I need a happy ending, but the happy ending these characters got felt unrealistic. One character is seriously injured and recovers too quickly, and Oscar’s final career path in the epilogue is a little too advanced for only two laters. 

However, even with the ending issue, this was an engaging novel that was enjoyable to read, and I look forward to reading more from the author.  

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