2013 · 3 stars · contemporary · ya

Cherry Money Baby by John M. Cusick

Title: Cherry Money Baby
Author: John M. Cusick (website | twitter)
Pub. Date: September 10, 2013
Source: e-ARC via netgalley
Summary: 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.
Genre: YA, Contemporary

You know how, sometimes, you’ll read a summary and completely misread it? You’ll think the book is totally different than how it actually is? That’s what happened with me and Cherry Money Baby. Somehow I got it in my head that Cherry and Ardelia were switching places, that Cherry would go off and play the celebrity while Ardelia would hunker down as a normal person.

While I can’t fault the book for my clear lack of reading comprehension, I have to admit I think it would have been fun to read that story. Instead the story focuses on a small town thrust in the public eye when a production crew rolls in. Cherry Kerrigan is a master burrito-roller and she couldn’t care less about some famous people invading her town. She’s not the type of girl to follow the lives of celebrities and she’s only able to tell them apart from other people by their far more expensive clothing. The day Ardelia stops into Burrito Barn Cherry was simply focused on work. When Ardelia began choking, Cherry started acting on auto-pilot; the rest of the crew – and customers – were too stunned to do anything. One single moment changed both Cherry’s and Ardelia’s lives in ways they couldn’t imagine.

Cherry’s life wasn’t perfect, but it was hers and she loved it. She lived with her dad and stoner brother in their too-small trailer, her childhood friend-turned-boyfriend lived in the trailer next door, and she had a great bestie. So what if she slacked a little on her schoolwork: Cherry was happy. The incident with Ardelia suddenly made Cherry a national hero. Youtube clips and newspaper articles appeared like magic and everyone at school wanted to talk to her. She was still Tough Chick Cherry, but with the added bonus of being a hero as well – everyone wanted a piece of her.

A surprise visit from Ardelia didn’t help matters, nor did the awesome vintage Alfa Romeo Spider Ardelia gifted her. One chat led to another and Cherry began to realize there was more to this movie star; she wasn’t just a gorgeous rich girl. Soon Cherry was spending her free time with Ardelia and her movie star friends, leaving Cherry’s friends to wonder just what happened to the Take No Crap girl they used to know.

When Ardelia comes to Cherry with a job proposition – along with a check for more money than Cherry’s family could ever dream of – Cherry has to decide what she really wants out of life.

So Cherry Money Baby was a little different than I expected, but this time that’s not a bad thing! I really enjoyed this book and it went so quickly. Short chapters, a plot that zooms right along, and great characters definitely made reading this one a fun ride. My only issue was that Cherry and Ardelia’s friendship happened so fast. I get that Ardelia was grateful – Cherry did save her life after all! – but it seemed that they had just (properly!) introduced themselves before getting busy making plans for hanging out at this club or partying with that person. Over time their friendship began to feel real to me, but that initial stage was a bit jarring.

Also, the ending was a bit too Family Sitcom for me. There were huge, life-changing events and no one really batted an eye or give much thought as to what the future held. I can appreciate a Happily Ever After, but this one was a little too happy for my tastes.

I suppose it’s really saying something when the biggest qualms I have with a book are a fast friendship and super happy ending. If you’re in the mood for a fun contemporary with believable characters, Cherry Money Baby is the book for you!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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3 thoughts on “Cherry Money Baby by John M. Cusick

  1. I’ve been looking forward to Cherry Money Baby for quite awhile now, so I was very excited to see your review! While I’m sorry to hear that your expectations were a little dashed regarding what the novel would be about (And to be honest, I’m not surprised! I expected something similar, plot-wise), it does sound as though your experience overall was generally positive. While I don’t love the idea that the conflict is resolved a little too quickly and conveniently at the conclusion of the novel, I do think it’ll be interesting to see Cherry navigate a type of lifestyle that’s entirely foreign to her, if only to see what, if any, effect it has on her personality and development. It’s fascinating to see whether a character will behave with grace under pressure, and I can only imagine that being friends with Ardelia is anything but smooth sailing for Cherry.

    Thank you for the lovely review, Leah! I’m looking all the more forward to reading Cherry Money Baby now, as sometimes there’s nothing better than a relatively light-hearted story that you can whip through in a matter of hours :)

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