Jasmine Yap’s life is great. Well, it’s okay. She’s about to move in with her long-time boyfriend, Paul, before starting a nursing program at community college—all of which she mostly wants. But her stable world is turned upside down when she catches Paul cheating. To her giant, overprotective family, Paul’s loss is their golden ticket to showing Jasmine that she deserves much more. The only problem is, Jasmine refuses to meet anyone new.
But…what if the family set up a situation where she wouldn’t have to know? A secret Jasmine Project.
The plan is simple: use Jasmine’s graduation party as an opportunity for her to meet the most eligible teen bachelors in Orlando. There’s no pressure for Jasmine to choose anyone, of course, but the family hopes their meticulously curated choices will show Jasmine how she should be treated. And maybe one will win her heart.
But with the family fighting for their favorites, bachelors going rogue, and Paul wanting her back, the Jasmine Project may not end in love but total, heartbreaking disaster.
I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
When I think of The Jasmine Project, I think of soda bubbles on your tongue on a hot summer’s day, a mug of your favourite drink in your hand while snuggled up under a fort of blankets, and surprise cupcakes from a loved one just because. In other words, when I think of The Jasmine Project, I think about a story that is so delightfully light-hearted, comforting, and a balm to the soul. Suffice to say, I adored The Jasmine Project and it was the adorable coming-of-age romantic comedy that I needed.
The Jasmine Project follows the titular character Jasmine, a Korean-American adoptee teen who has her future set: start her nursing degree (even though she dreams of cooking) and move in with her long-term boyfriend. But when Jasmine finds out that her boyfriend cheated on her and suggests that they ‘see other people’ before committing to each other and Jasmine refuses to see anyone new, her big family secretly decide to set her up with three hand-picked eligible bachelors – all without her knowing.
The Jasmine Project has everything that you want from a satisfying romantic comedy. From a childhood-best-friends-to-lovers romance dangled in front of you, to an adorable swoony meet-cute that, and I say this without hyperbole, made me squeal from delight, to a smooth-talking athlete with a heart of gold, The Jasmine Project feels like a buffet of all the things I love about romantic stories rolled into one. As Jasmine grapples with the attention of three undeniably good and generous boys, I also felt like I was living the highs of her romantic adventures vicariously. Some of the moments are a little silly, but it’s a kind of good-natured silliness that feels fuzzy and comforting and warm. Of course, the ever-present question is “who is she going to choose?!” enraptured me, and I was delighted by how organic the romantic and emotional beats of the story were. The Jasmine Project almost feels like a romantic adventure; a journey that I loved going on.
One of the central conflicts of the story is Jasmine herself; she doesn’t understand her worth, she doesn’t stand up for herself, and she cuts herself down to fit the perceptions that people have of her. I resonated so much with Jasmine’s character; this book understands how it feels when you take up too much space, when you feel that settling is better than having nothing, when you want something so desperately that you tell yourself you don’t want it because the possibility of failing would be too devastating.
Thus, though the romances in the story were wonderful, my favourite part of The Jasmine Project was the coming-of-age elements of the story. I loved that Ireland has told an incredibly humanising and resonant story about a girl who is actually deeply wrong about herself and doesn’t see herself the way that her loved ones see her. And so, when Jasmine begins to realise that, actually, she is deserving of love, she does deserve better, she should take a chance and pursue her dreams, she can choose a love that is kind? It’s comforting and satisfying and validating. For readers who have struggled with the same issues that Jasmine did, The Jasmine Project ultimately feels like a love story to the vulnerable parts of ourselves that sometimes can feel small, and that all of us are deserving of one of the most important loves there is: self-love.
With the romantic elements on one hand and the coming-of-age elements on the other, The Jasmine Project is a match made in heaven for readers who love the swoony and softness of romance as well as the genuine and meaningful beats of a story about growth and self-love. In addition, the storytelling is wonderful – Jasmine’s story is told with so much love, particularly in the ways that Jasmine is surrounded by love. Jasmine’s big, loving, yet overbearing family is a particular highlight, and I particularly enjoyed the chaotic family group chat chapters. Furthermore, add on top that she’s adopted yet loved so deeply from both sides of her Filipino and white-Italian family, where her being adopted is merely just a fact of her life and not a void to be filled only adds to the sweetness of the family aspect of the story. For readers concerned about the issues of Jasmine being set up without her knowledge and consent, be assured that the story does address and resolve this in an intentional and thoughtful way.
MY CONCLUSION: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
The Jasmine Project will be, without a doubt, a book I will return to in the future if ever I’m in need of the comfort of a good love story and a satisfying coming-of-age story. I absolutely adored The Jasmine Project – I enjoyed its humour, its sensitive and joyous story, and its cast of gorgeous characters whom I loved spending time with. I cannot wait to see what Ireland writes next.
Is this book for you?
Premise in a sentence: When a teen’s boyfriend cheats on her, her family sets her up with three boys without her knowing to show her that she deserves better.
Perfect for: Readers who love romantic-comedies with depth; readers who love coming-of-age stories; readers who derive satisfaction from main characters who grow across the story.
Think twice if: you’re not looking for a coming-of-age story and all the ‘character flaws’ that comes with them.
Genre: young adult romantic comedy, coming of age
Trigger/content warning: none that I picked up!