by John M. Cusick
September 10, 2013
Source: Around the World ARC Tours
Hollywood glitz collides with working class aspirations in this satirical tale of an impulsive starlet and a sharp-witted small-town teen.
Cherry Kerrigan loves her simple life, her family’s tiny trailer, even working at Burrito Barn. Forget college — she’s marrying her sweetheart from next door. But here comes Ardelia Deen, a glamorous starlet who sweeps Cherry into a world of fast cars and penthouse parties. Now Cherry’s small-town life just seems so . . . small. When Ardelia drops a bomb of an offer — one involving a baby — Cherry knows her life will change forever, no matter what she decides. John M. Cusick focuses his signature wit on Hollywood royalty and the wide-eyed dreams of Small Town, U.S.A. in a novel about discovering who you are . . . and changing your mind.(Goodreads Summary.)
** This is an ARC review.
Any quotes or excerpts are taken from an unfinished text
and are therefore subject to change before the final print**
My Take On It
So glad this title caught my eye even though I haven't previously read anything by John Cusick. The best thing about Cherry Money Baby? The surprises. What you think will be a book about a poor, white trash girl struggling to make it out of her hick town actually turned out to be a really amazing study of class, with some interesting nods towards celebrity culture, all wrapped up in a extremely well written, likable protagonist with a sarcastic, witty, funny voice. You think you are reading about what happens when teenager Cherry Kerrigan is thrust into a totally different world but you are really reading a fantastic feel good book about being true to yourself, because only then will you find true happiness.
I absolutely adored the main character of Cherry Kerrigan. On the surface Cherry is a walking stereotype. She's a high school senior working at a fast food joint, living in a trailer park with her blue collar father and pot head brother. Mom ran off with another guy when Cherry was just a kid and it seems like Cherry is heading nowhere in life. So, just when I thought I had Cherry all figured out, I discovered instead a smart, scrappy, no nonsense girl who has a wonderful, caring dad and brother, is in a healthy long term relationship with her childhood best friend and neighbor, and who is actually not all that tore up about her lot in life. Cherry may not be a straight A student but she is well liked and respected at her school by most of the student body AND the administration. Even when she lands in detention. And I think the reason is because Cherry is the genuine article. She's unapologetic and not trying to be someone she's not.
But all of that changes when Cherry prevents film start Ardelia Deen from choking on a burrito during her afternoon shift at the Burrito Barn. Suddenly Cherry is famous, and the world cannot get enough of her. Movie star Ardelia Deen is fascinated with Cherry. In Ardelia's fast paced world everyone is out for something. But Cherry is honest and genuine and doesn't rely on manipulations to get what she wants.
And to Cherry, Ardelia's world, while not something she ever expected to be thrust into, is an eye opening experience. Watching Cherry try to navigate Ardelia's flashy world was both fun and nerve wracking to read. I was thrilled that Cherry was getting to broaden her horizons and step out into the bigger world, but at the same time I didn't want her to lose sight of who she was. Witnessing how each girl affects and changes the other, in both good and bad ways, was definitely one of the best parts of the book.
You can't understand Cherry and why she is the way she is without looking at the AMAZING support system she has. I absolutely ADORED Cherry's father. An automotive mechanic, he was such a surprising character, and like Cherry one that totally broke through the type casting that he could have so easily fallen into. Cherry's dad is not only a caring and loving parent, he is totally present in Cherry's life. I love it when a strong parental unit is featured in the YA I read, and in every case I can think of where this type of relationship shines in a book it is because the parent is completely ENGAGED in their child's life. Cherry's dad is truly a diamond in the rough in this book.
The second character that I fell for, hook, line and sinker? Cherry's boyfriend Lucas. Guys, Lucas was such a great guy. Compassionate, loyal, understanding and loving, he is absolutely the perfect boyfriend. In fact, the only time in the book when I got a little miffed at Cherry was when she was treating Lucas unfairly. I'm not one to normally think of a high school romance as being something long lasting and meaningful, but it was pretty hard for me to not to feel that way about Cherry and Lucas's relationship. Solid, steady, and grounded. Those are the things that make up Lucas and what he offers Cherry.
The book is divided into three sections 1) Cherry 2) Money and 3) Baby and although it ended VERY differently then I expected, this book turned out to be such an awesome feel good read for me. It's a standalone but I would love to be able to check back in with Cherry in ten or fifteen years to see how she's doing. I have a feeling that she's still doing what Cherry does best, living the life she wants to live without apologies or regrets.
In summation, I REALLY enjoyed this book. I loved Cusick's writing. I loved that he created this amazingly likable protagonist that not only breaks down stereotypes and looks at a hefty issue like class, the haves vs. the have-nots, but does it in a humorous and thought provoking way. I love the feel good aspects of this book and that it is infused with so much hope. THIS is my idea of a perfect summertime read. Fun but with depth and AMAZING characters and relationships. I will most definitely be checking out more by this author in the future.
Find John M. Cusick here: website / goodreads / twitter / facebook
Read more reviews of Cherry Money Baby:
Ashley Loves Books
Diamonds and Coal Book Reviews
Boho Book Lover