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Cherry Money Baby

Review

Cherry Money Baby

The working-class world meets Hollywood glamour in John M. Cusick’s CHERRY MONEY BABY. Cherry is content with her life. She loves cars, is an expert burrito-roller and is engaged to the boy in the trailer next door.  As far as Cherry is concerned, her language is colorful and if her teachers feel that she has impulse control problems, they can always go….well, she doesn’t give a damn.

"It is rare to find a realistic fiction novel with such stellar characters, and even rarer to find one that leaves the reader so curious as to how the action will resolve and so satisfied when it finally does."

One day at the Burrito Barn, Cherry saves a girl from choking and is surprised to learn she is none other than actress Ardelia Deen. When Ardelia shows up at Cherry’s door to say thanks and give her a spin in her vintage Spider, the two become friends. Ardelia decides that Cherry is the perfect assistant to help her on her latest project. Project baby.

Just as he did with his debut novel GIRL PARTS, Cusick proves that he understands women. The relationship between the impulsive Ardelia and the sassy Cherry feels organic, and provides a contrast not only between their worlds, one gritty and one glamorous, but also between each girl’s own personality. Cherry, crass and unabashed, is unwilling to behave with grace, while Ardelia commands just as much attention with poise and charm.

Cherry’s development as a character is a pleasure to watch, particularly because the very wealth and glamour she originally ridicules begins to seduce her. Cherry easily critiques Ardelia’s world, but initially she does not give her own world the same courtesy and flatly refuses to question the validity of her own life plans, which don’t include college. While her perspective shifts over the course of the novel, I found her opinions to be refreshing. Cherry would never consent to being an object of pity and does not view her life as a problem in need of fixing. Though Cherry’s perspective, the reader is forced to consider the issues of class more honesty, without patronizing or moralizing.

At the heart of this story is Cherry and Ardelia’s relationship, but what makes this a spectacular read is the skill with which Cusick builds suspense. It is rare to find a realistic fiction novel with such stellar characters, and even rarer to find one that leaves the reader so curious as to how the action will resolve and so satisfied when it finally does.

Reviewed by Olivia Swomley on August 6, 2013

Cherry Money Baby
by John M. Cusick

  • Publication Date: September 10, 2013
  • Genres: Young Adult 14+
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick
  • ISBN-10: 0763655570
  • ISBN-13: 9780763655570