Review: Cherry by Lindsey Rosin

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Cherry by Lindsey RosinCherry by Lindsey Rosin
Published by Simon Pulse on August 16, 2016
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
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five-stars

In this honest, frank, and funny debut novel, four best friends make a pact during their senior year of high school to lose their virginities—and end up finding friendship, love, and self-discovery along the way.

To be honest, the sex pact wasn’t always part of the plan.

Layla started it. She announced it super casually to the rest of the girls between bites of frozen yogurt, as if it was just simply another addition to her massive, ever-evolving To Do List. She is determined to have sex for the first time before the end of high school. Initially, the rest of the crew is scandalized, but, once they all admit to wanting to lose their v-cards too, they embark on a quest to do the deed together... separately.

Layla’s got it in the bag. Her serious boyfriend, Logan, has been asking for months.

Alex has already done it. Or so she says.

Emma doesn’t know what the fuss is all about, but sure, she’ll give it a shot.

And Zoe, well, Zoe can’t even say the o word without bursting into giggles.

Will everything go according to plan? Probably not. But at least the girls have each other every hilarious, heart-warming, cringe-inducing step of the way.

From debut author Lindsey Rosin, Cherry is a coming-of-age, laugh-out-loud tale of first times, last chances, and the enduring friendships that make it all worthwhile.

Wow. I just really was not expecting to love this book. I mean, yes, I was into the premise, but I’m a shallow person and I loathed both cover and title so my expectations were very low. While I know that you’re not meant to judge books by their covers, that’s literally what my blog is most famous for so um let’s just say that I’m not good at ignoring the cover art. Until I open the book and fall in love with the words, the characters, the plot, as happened here. Cherry captured my heart from the start and didn’t give it back.

Obviously, if you don’t like sex in fiction, particularly in YA fiction, you’re not going to be into this book. Really you should have seen that coming, since it’s about four girls who make a pact to have sex by the end of senior year. However, in case it wasn’t obvious, there’s quite a lot of sex in this book, as well as blow jobs, 69ing, cunnilingus, and fingering. You get the idea. There is a lot of sex in here.

If this book gets the attention it deserves, there’s going to be a conversation about whether sex in YA is appropriate, especially when it’s as graphic as it is in Cherry. Personally, I’m Team Write-About-All-the-Sex, not just because I like reading sexy books either. When I was a teen, I snuck into the family library and made off with my mom’s romance novels, mostly by Jude Deveraux and Judith McNaught. Teens are going to learn about sex, one way or another unless you lock them in a bubble with no internet connection, and they’re going to get more realistic views from Cherry than from historical romances, for example.

In terms of the sexual detail, Cherry reminded me of Daria Snadowsky’s Anatomy of a Boyfriend and its followup Anatomy of a Single Girl (both of which I really liked btw). There are actual sexual detail. Though not quite as graphic as Snadowsky’s books, there is definitively no fading to black. The sexual experiences are a big part of it, and the girls share with each other what happened and how it felt, so you actually see the sexual activity happen and then the discussion with friends later.

Rosin does a really fantastic job with the sexual messages here. I was worried that the sex pact could be kind of creepy, and the opening scene made me more nervous about that as Zoe, for one, was kind of forced into agreeing to it. However, though the girls plan to have sex, there’s a clear message that it’s important to wait until you’re ready, which might mean waiting until you’ve fallen in love or found a boyfriend or might just mean a casual hookup. That varies for all of the girls and I’ll tell you that one of them ends up missing the “due date” of sex by graduation.

Cherry captures perfectly the way that sex is both a HUGE deal and completely anticlimactic. One of the reasons the sex here is good, imo, for teens to read is that it’s not romanticized like in romance novels. Every sex scene doesn’t end with the orgasms for all; in fact, many do not result in a firework display for the girls. Cherry shows that good sex is possible, but that it’s probably not going to happen with just d in the v. Actually, I’m pretty sure that none of them orgasms from penis in vagina action in the whole book.

Now, I mentioned the fact that Zoe was afraid of the sex pact and didn’t want to participate initially. That’s true. But, actually, the pact ends up being such a good thing for her. She didn’t want to join, not because she wasn’t interested in sex, but because she didn’t think she would find anyone who would want to have sex with her. Signing on to the pact actually helped her esteem and opened her up to the idea of maybe being a sexual being, which started bringing some boys to the yard.

The sex stuff is most overt and what will be discussed most probably, but I didn’t love this book just for the subject matter. Told in third person, Cherry jumps around between the different girls in short segments. This storytelling method is hard to get right, but Rosin did it. I was so completely invested in each girl’s story and character arc. Often, at least one POV is boring, but I loved all four girls and their journey into the sexual world. They all have adorable/hot romances, and it’s a thing of shippy joy tbh. Also, I love that all of the girls have more than one option, and that three of them get to tell off for doing something shitty and problematic. Oh and heads up, there is f/f in here, which I didn’t know but was thrilled to discover. And it’s good!

Shining above all of that is the friendship between these four girls. Alex, Zoe, Layla, and Emma are a bit afraid of the future as they all head off to college. Maintaining high school friendships when you all go off to different schools is a bit less hard than maintaining a romance but it’s still a bit perilous. The sex pact serves to make their friendship even tighter than it was previously, as they chat endlessly about their sex progress reports and cheer each other on in their relationships.

One of the things often missing from YA novels is that element of friendship, of the way that friends will discuss all the minutiae of an interaction between girl and crush. Rosin really captures that, and I think the dialog between the friends is completely perfect. They have fights sometimes, but they work through them. When the chips are down, they all support one another, and it’s really so lovely to see.

Cherry has all of the strong friendship vibes and feminism of The Revenge Playbook combined with the sex positivity of Anatomy of a Single Girl. It’s wonderful, and I urge you to read it as soon as you can.

Favorite Quote:

“What’s that going to do? Make your life miserable? Maybe, but I don’t need that. You know what you did. And I know who you are. So. As far as I’m concerned I’ve already won. Forever, I get to be me—and you have to be you—and I feel incredibly good about both of those things.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif it's not having sex that's a big deal to do list

4 responses to “Review: Cherry by Lindsey Rosin”

  1. You single-handedly made me know that this book exists and that I probably need it now. Definitely going to read this one!
    Dianne @ Oops! I Read A Book Again recently posted…Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Philippine Release Party!!!My Profile

  2. Pamela says:

    I was a little unsure about this one but you’ve sold me on it! I am also very pro-details in YA fiction that features sex. Like you said, teens are going to seek it out no matter what, so if authors give them authentic experiences and details in fiction, it’s probably better than trying to figure things out using Fifty Shades or the Sleeping Beauty books. Or V.C. Andrews 🙂

    Have you ever read The V Club? This sounds a little bit like that, and I loved that book as a teen.

  3. I had no idea this book existed and now I really really need it! It sounds fantastic and I’m with you, teens are going to learn about sex and a host of other things eventually. Might as well be in a safe space through books written for them.

  4. Wow, glowing review! I’m going to be adding this to my TBR list (and totally agree with you about the title/cover putting you off).

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