cover image Cherry Money Baby

Cherry Money Baby

John M. Cusick. Candlewick, $16.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5557-0

While working her usual shift at the Burrito Barn, Cherry Kerrigan rescues a choking customer, an A-list movie star who is in town to shoot a film. Ardelia Deen is so grateful that she gives Cherry her Alfa Romeo, and so impressed by Cherry’s unvarnished perspective that she makes her a paid consultant; Cherry will help vet potential surrogates to carry the baby the actress desperately wants. Cherry, who is at ease in grimy sweats, comes to realize many things, including the importance of appearance. The candidates “chatted on... while their outfits whispered subliminal messages: I’m reliable. I’m spiritual. I’m relaxed. I don’t care what you think.” Author/literary agent Cusick (Girl Parts) gives Cherry a sarcastic and often profane voice. The supporting cast—Cherry’s blue-collar father, her chill boyfriend, and Ardelia’s caustic manager—round out a plot that continually surprises. Cherry is a highly memorable character, prone to violent outbursts but possessing a strong moral compass, a rare smalltown girl who isn’t consumed by anxiety over getting into college or out of town—even when she has the chance to dip her toe into the pool with some big-time celebrities. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)