AUTHOR: Cathy Cassidy
SERIES: The Chocolate Box Girls, book 1
PUBLICATION DATE: Sept. 2, 2010
SOURCE: my library
GENRE: Chick Lit, Romance, Realistic Fiction
SETTING: Glasgow, Scotland and Somerset, England; present-day
GIVE IT TO: MS girls
SUMMARY: Thirteen-year old Cherry lives with her father in a rundown apartment in Glasgow, Scotland. Having no friends at school and only her father at home, Cherry is lonely and sad. But things start looking up when Cherry’s dad rekindles a past relationship with a woman from Somerset, England. Charlotte runs a bed and breakfast with her four daughters, and Cherry and her father have been invited to move to Somerset to help run the family business. Suddenly, Cherry has an instant mother and four sisters to keep her company.
REVIEW: I don’t think I would have picked up Cherry Crush on my own, so I am very happy that one of my students recommended it to me!
This book is so much deeper than it looks. I thought it would be a cute-but-predictable romance with some stepfamily drama, but there is far more going on than meets the eye. While there are romance and family issues, Cherry Crush deals with these and other themes in a realistic way. There are no easy answers, and the conflicts are multi-layered. Nothing is resolved overnight, and most of the conflicts presented will continue in subsequent books. In this way, it mirrors real-life problems that many preteen and teen readers will relate to.
The characters–particularly Cherry and her four unofficial stepsisters–are clearly drawn. Each has her own unique personality, and I am happy that each girl gets her own book in the series.
I liked the ending as well. Some conflicts are resolved or semi-resolved, but other situations are complicated and need more than one book to play out. This book felt like real life, and I look forward to seeing what happens to these girls as they grow older.
THEMES: divorce, blended families, growing up without a mother, absent parent, sisters, jealousy, a child’s lack of control over parents’ decisions, loneliness, telling lies, running a family business
THE BOTTOM LINE: There is more here than meets the eye. Cherry Crush is an engaging story that I recommend highly for any library serving teens and preteens.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We only have the first book, Cherry Crush. I just ordered the other five books in the series, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that they are not out-of-print already. I see that they are available as a paperback set on Amazon and on Kindle. For librarians, Follett does list them as of today, but they are UK dispatch. I know I can get these at my school here in China, but I’m not sure how this works for American, Canadian, and Australian school libraries.
- Overall: 5/5
- Creativity: 5/5
- Characters: 5/5
- Engrossing: 5/5
- Writing: 5/5
- Appeal to teens: 5/5–will mainly appeal to girls
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
- Language: none
- Sexuality: mild; one mild kiss, hand-holding
- Violence: mild; I wondered if Cherry’s love interest was being physically abused at home
- Drugs/Alcohol: none