Cherry by Lindsey Rosin

cherryNovel: Cherry by Lindsey Rosin | GoodreadsRelease Date: August 16, 2016Publisher: Simon PulseFormat: ARCSource: Publisher

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.

Truthfully, I'd been expecting a lot more of a breezy beach read rather than a book that would make me think so much. I picked this one up at ALA, and ended up reading it in one sitting while on vacation. I can confidently say now that it's a book with a lot to say, in addition to being wholeheartedly fun to read.Because of the subject matter, I wasn't expecting to relate so much to certain aspects of what the girls went through. Cherry dipped into a lot of aspects of growing up, rather than being a one-sided book. It was sweet and funny and awkward, in a way that felt like an intimate look into the very real dynamics of the girls' lives.As the synopsis says, Cherry is about a group of girls who have been friends since first grade, who talk about everything with each other. One of them, Layla, decides that she wants to efficiently cross off her goals before the end of senior year. One of which is losing her virginity. Before they fully process it, the girls have all agreed to go through with it too. That decision leads to a whirlwind of lighthearted adventures, uncomfortable encounters, and big questions that get a lot heavier over the course of the novel.Although it's a topic generally covered in YA, it can be pretty risky for a book's premise to hinge entirely on sex. I don't usually recommend to ages - I'm a strong believer that preteens and teens are capable of gauging whether or not something is appropriate for them or if they're able to handle it - but I'd classify it as upper YA. No age specified. Because it did get rather detailed at some parts.On that note, the descriptions (of sex) all have purpose. They don't feel salacious because their intention isn't to shock. It was mostly because the characters talk about everything with each other, and this book is pretty matter-of-fact. It seems mostly to try and dispel a lot of the common tropes in YA that paint the act in generic, standardized terms. Cherry contains a lot of variation with catalysts, experiences, and reactions, told through a lens of three-dimensional characters who all deal with their coming-of-age differently.Each of the main characters (Layla, Alex, Zoe, and Emma) collectively feel the weight of a ton of different stressors. Graduation, self-identity, their evolving friendship, and their romances, to name a few. I was surprised by how elegantly each of these concepts were woven throughout the narrative: how subtly and quietly they showed up, in a way much more conducive to reality than to fiction. I felt like I knew each of the girls personally, which is always rewarding. Memorable characters for the win.Layla is the spreadsheets gal. She legitimately created a spreadsheet for her goal too - nicknamed "the Sex Doc." She likes to know exactly what was going to happen - which is difficult senior year because of the uncertainty of transition. Is her boyfriend, Logan, going to stay with her when he goes to college across the country? Will she be able to plan for the perfect first time?Emma doesn't even want to hear the word "graduation." She's comfortable in L.A., eating froyo at the Bigg Chill every Sunday with the girls, with her parents. She buries her worries under yearbook and her new friend Savannah, who she begins to wonder about in a way that challenges everything she thought she knew about herself.Alex is mostly content with keeping her head down and beating the track record. She's committed to Stanford, so her future is tucked away. The girls all assume she'll have no trouble crossing it off her list, because she's brash and kind and not afraid to take on challenges (and all the boys want her.) Between her flirty, manipulative carpool and the boy she's always secretly had eyes for, she ends up dealing with a lot more than she thought.Meanwhile, Zoe's anxious and high-strung and frizzy-haired, so she thinks there's no way in hell that she'll cross it off. She was reluctant to agree with Layla in the first place, but felt pressured into it. So she has to decide whether or not she's truly ready, who exactly she has feelings for (because her relationships get pretty muddled), and what she wants out of the future when she's too shy to confront the present.I LOVED the character development. Each of them had plot lines and complications that brilliantly challenged them, forcing them to evolve and make mistakes and keep on going. Secondary characters were great too, distinctly and profoundly shaping the events and emotions of the story. I appreciated the idiosyncrasies of each character - similar enough to relate to and affect each other, but different enough to seem fresh.The girls' dynamic changed too. Primarily, it felt like a book that dealt with friendship more than relationships. What happens when everyone goes away? What happens when everybody wants different things?What's more, I thought Cherry thoughtfully tackled a lot of the ambiguity present senior year, and the identity issues attached to that. Many of the lines and discussions present in various scenes that earnestly reflected a lot of depth and growth. I was really impressed.My only hesitation was that the book was originally a little hard to get into just because of the narration. It's told in an omniscient third-person perspective that was at first a little off-putting, but that I gradually eased into enjoying - especially as it made certain areas of the book work later on.All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by Cherry and it'll definitely be a book that I heartily recommend. It's not just about sex (although it does deal with that in a way that feels complex), but also about great girl friendships and the struggles of growing up. I got major Winger vibes - one of my favorite books - because of how all-encompassing it felt, how sincere. Or it's like if The Winnie Years had an older sister. Super positive, super empowering, super honest and lovely read.I loved it. 

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