When Jasmine's loving and large family sees what is happening, they have an idea - to show Jasmine how many guys would love to date her and how much she is worth, they decide to set her up on dates. Inspired by The Bachelor, they find contestants who would be perfect for Jasmine and arrange for meet-cutes. The family texts (everyone except Jasmine of course) may get a bit out of hand with betting who she'll pick.
As Jasmine meets the three boys, the guy who grew up next door, the cook, and the minor league baseball player, she begins to see herself in a new light and question all the things she had previously settled for - not just romantically but also her education and career choices.
What I loved: This was a really delightful and charming coming-of-age story. Jasmine grows a lot during the story as she begins to question her personal limits and choices. I also appreciated that the guys in the contest aid in this self-exploration as she comes into her own. There are some important themes around self-worth, following your dreams, living your life for yourself, appreciation of what you have, family love, long-term impacts of bullying, adoption, emotional abuse, and wealth disparity that made this a really thought-provoking read.
Even though the main plot is a fluffy and adorable romance we can all cheer for, the side themes were equally important. I found the theme around bullying and the impact of cruel words to be particularly impactful, and I appreciated the need to clear the air and reexamine motives later as well (for misplaced, hurtful words; bullying is a different story). It was also easy to see how people can get stuck in and return to emotionally abusive relationships, and these examples can be helpful for people who might not realize that they are entering into one. I appreciated the importance of family support around this and trying to help her see what they (as outsiders) can see. I also really loved the inclusion of the family texts and a multicultural extended family. Although they were a bit much, I loved that their hearts were in the right place, as well as all the humor their interactions brought to the story.
Along those lines, I really enjoyed the format of the story with the inclusion of text messages, podcast scripts, and diary-style inserts. This really added a lot to the book, and I fully enjoyed it.
What left me wanting more: As a very small point, it did become really clear early on who Jasmine would pick, and I would have liked a bit more from the others. However, this did make it a clearer rom-com, so I see why we focused in so fast. I also would have appreciated more acknowledgment and consequences for the emotional abuse in the relationship - there were some really tough scenes there, and I felt like he got off too easy.
Final verdict: A charming and delightful coming-of-age story, THE JASMINE PROJECT combines important themes, romance, and humor in a fantastic YA contemporary. Highly recommend for fans of 10 BLIND DATES, TO ALL THE BOYS I'VE LOVED BEFORE, and MEET ME AT MIDNIGHT.