Cherry: A Memoir
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Cherry: A Memoir

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  5,053 ratings  ·  386 reviews

When Mary Karr began the mid-'90s memoir craze with The Liars' Club, she introduced us to a scrappy, funny kid with a fierce intelligence, a ruthless curiosity, and an indelible stripe of defiance. In Cherry, that kid -- still called Pokey by her father -- is older and wilder, inching closer and closer to trouble with every paragraph.

The book opens with Mary's farewell to

Hardcover, Large Print, 483 pages
Published September 4th 2001 by Thorndike Press (first published January 1st 2000)
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Jan 22, 2011 Caris rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mary Karr
Shelves: 2011
What the fuck is wrong with me?
A review in 20 questions
by: Caris

Why did I pick this book up?
What did I expect to find?
Why did I not bother to read the blurb?
How did this become a bestseller?
Was the prologue as uninteresting as I thought it was?
Why was the first part written in first-person and the rest in second?
Who writes a memoir in second person?
Who thinks her experiences are universal enough to write in second person?
Why did she whine so much?
Why do people write about their drug experiences?...more
I approached Cherry under the impression that it was the lesser of Karr's memoirs - word of mouth and general internet criticism had led me to believe that it didn't have the power of The Liar's Club . But by page 25 of this book I was already convinced that Cherry is actually the more complex and ambitious of the two books. Alternating between the second and first person, Cherry evokes a more universally nostalgic exploration of high school girl-hood, one that is richer and braver than the...more
Nov 24, 2008 Jennifer rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer by: Some chick on LJ
Shelves: 2002, biography, memoirs
Cherry is the biographical story of a teenager coming into her own. I was told it was a great book by some chick on LJ and I was all geared up for a Great Book. It didn't hit the mark for me. It was good - but I just didn't feel like the story hit that bone of truth for me like it seems to have with other people. Maybe I was at that point in my life where you push away your youth and reading about someone struggling in a small town just hit too close to home? I don't know. I thought the writing...more
Caitlin Constantine
Mary Karr is a literary god. She is just brilliant. Her prose is like poetry but without the self-consciousness that usually accompanies prose stylists who write like poets and vice versa. She also manages to capture the flavor of living in east Texas - the turns of phrase, the slang - without seeming forced or pretentious. Just the writing alone is worth the price of the book, because the writing makes what has by now become a cliche in memoir writing - recounting a troubled, drug-addled adoles...more
Monty J Heying
I'm writing my own stories about growing up in Texas; so I naturally had to read LIAR'S CLUB and CHERRY. I'm glad I did, although my tortured journey toward adulthood began ten years earlier than Mary's and involved nine years in an orphanage. Not comparing; just giving my angle of orientation. To me anyone with parents is spoiled, but then I didn't have drugs to contend with. Still, we shared that "outsider" view and the search for self and struggle to escape the boundaries of our pre-adolescen...more
I didn't think this volume was as good as Liar's Club or Lit. I do like Karr's style and prose. There is a lot of Texas swagger in her. I found her high school descent into drugs rather harrowing. The God she refused to believe in certainly covered her with grace. Driving while tripping on acid! She could have ended up like so many of her friends. What I like about memoirs is seeing how other people come to make sence of their experiences and somehow survive, make it to adulthood (psychically)....more
I ran across this book in the bookstore one day and it looked interesting, so I bought it. Before I'd even finished reading it, I ordered The Liar's Club, her first memoir (These two books and her third memoir, Lit, can all stand on their own but it makes much more sense to read them all in order). This book is simply amazing. Some events in Karr's story are so harrowing that I had to keep reminding myself that she (obviously) made it out alive. I love the way she presents her family members--sh...more
I had high hopes for this book because Mary Karr explains that she wrote it to fill a void for the female coming-of-age novel. She claims that the world of female teenage years needed to be explored - I agree, so I was really looking forward to what she had to say.

The reality of this memoir is that it is hardly a "typical" growing up, yet she failed to deeply explore the aspects of her youth that may have been more universal. I could only identify with snippets of the story, and just when I was...more
Apr 06, 2008 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by: Friends of the Library
Take THAT Nabakov!

So this is a follow up to the Liars Club, her memoir of growing up with a dysfunctional family in Texas. This time around, she focuses on her coming of age years with a fantastic precision and recollection.

What I most admired about this book is the way you can see how a teenage girl can be bad and good, how she can be smart and yet naive, wild and yet sheltered all at the same time. Her stories about how her sexual emotions were budding was so very true to life- while she was...more
I either gel with a book or I don't and this one didn't hit the target for me at all. Oh well, they all can't be winners, however, I'd consider getting Lit: A Memoir from the library just to say I did read all of Mary Karr's books.
Memoir by Mary Karr of her pre-teen and teen years. Unstable house, alcohol, and then as she got older, sex and drugs. Well-written and honest, but not that great a read.
I'l pretty much read anything Mary Karr writes. Just re-read The Liar's Club. Read Lit and Cherry for the first time each. Been on a Mary Karr roll.
Tl Wagener
Here's the thing. I had to skip some parts of Liars Club because some of it was just too familiar to me. Texas. Emotional abuse. Praying (yeah, like that ever worked) to escape someday. So I didn't love that book. My best friends, however, adored it. So there's that.

This is the "sequel." And it's a terrible truth that when there are two important works from an author, the routine reaction to the second one is either "Not as good as the first" or "I liked this one more." It's great to be an autho...more
First of all, let me echo other reviewers in saying not to expect anything like The Liars' Club. Mary Karr is still an enormously gifted writer, but while The Liar's Club had its moments of joy interspersed with various traumas, Cherry is just plain dank. Mary's exploits as a child weren't hopeless -- she had a resiliance about her that assured the reader that she'd be all right, or some version thereof, in the end. The adolescent Mary descends deeper and deeper into a darkness that she manufact...more
Yvonne Culpepper
You read "Lit" and you know of Mary Karr's importance as a contemporary poet, but how do you feel about it? What was her childhood experience, and how does it dovetail into "Lit"'s beginning at her arrival at college? So, you order "The Liar's Club" and "Cherry" in order to understand her background. Unfortunately, "Cherry" arrives first. You try to resist it; after all, it seems like reading them in order would be best. You thumb about one third of the way through the book and read "just a litt...more
As I delved into The Liar's Club, Mary Karr's first memoir, it occurred to me I had another of her books on the shelf. I couldn't remember much about Cherry, beyond its "sexual awakening" theme, but thought it would be interesting to read about Karr's teenage years just after reading about her childhood.


The book stands alone, but it shouldn't. She mostly sets aside the horrors of her childhood to explore boys and drugs, relegating trauma (including hints about a rape when she was 8) to quick...more
I did not like this book nearly as much as I wanted. Partly, this is my own fault, as I thought the book would cover more of the time after the author left Leechfield for California. I kept waiting for the book to get to the point (the point being to get out of Leechfield, as described in the prologue) but eventually it dawned on me that wasn't going to happen. There were parts of this book that were good, but I got really annoyed with the use of the second-person narrative and the author's pare...more
Mary continues her account of growing up in a stifling town, with drunken parents, particularly her mother whose grip on sane self-preservation is loosened periodically. Personally, I think Mary's three memoirs reach out to have a relationship with the reader, to engage witness to her efforts to come to terms with her history, her family, her ambitions and her frailties. Cherry is not Liars' Club but an older voice, one who weaves into adolescence and further love of language.
I think some of the...more
I've come to the conclusion that I just don't enjoy Mary Karr's "voice". This is the second book of hers which was recommended to me, and the 2nd that I didn't feel like finishing. Something about her tone just grates on my nerves.
Jacob Andra
A gritty, tough and tender coming-of-age drama set in the poverty-stricken back-of-beyond of rural Texas, Cherry delivers a heartfelt, human story told with masterful prose.
Of the three memoirs Mary Karr has written, this is my least favorite, though I still love all of Karr's memoirs exceptionally. I especially like the way this text explores an adolescent girl's sexuality - it rang more true than any other text about adolescent women's sexuality I've read before. As usual, this has Karr's biting wit and forthrightness, her sense of humor and wisdom. Her first memoir - The Liars Club - places us intimately in her family life during childhood, whereas this memoir e...more
Lori Anderson
I have never done drugs, so I couldn't relate or even understand a lot of this book, and it was incredibky depressing to boot.
This is a densely poetic read and every sentence takes time, or maybe I was just dazzled by them and took time to get inside them. This is a beautiful, open and deceptive book about a girl growing up in Texas, from puberty to leaving home in a van of surfers at 17. One of the absolute best coming-of-age stories I've read. How does Mary Karr write several pages on the feeling of her first kiss? The story is disjointed, unlike the build of Liar's Club and Lit, but it all adds up to a powerful memo...more
I went back and forth deciding between 2 or 3 stars rating. Ultimately, it's a low 2.5.

I read her first book, The Liar's Club, last year and gobbled it up. It was so well written. Cherry was strangely written. Beautifully so, in many ways, poetic and lyrical. Not surprising, as she's also published several books of poetry.

There's a shift in POV somewhere around the middle of the book. It worked for a little while, creating this cerebral dreamlike experience. It just never went back to the orig...more
Jill Barton
This book started my love & fascination for memoirs & eventually the completion of my first memoir. A friend recommended this book back in October 2002 & said I had to read it because it takes place in a refining town where the author grew up & it sounded like the town I grew up in. Once I started Cherry I could not put it down until the last page. I wanted more so immediately went searching for anything by Mary Karr which led me to her first book The Liars Club. I kept a vigil f...more

This book was above average. Standard 3 star fare. As every other review will proclaim, I loved The Liars' Club, the first book in her memoir trilogy. I read this one because I bought and am reading my way through all 3. So why isn't this as good as the first you may ask? There is not much driving narrative. In other words, it isn't very linear- which may not be good or bad in and of itself. But it interested me less personally. I like characters, but I NEED a fairly linear story even if there...more
Cherry is really a sequel to The Liars' Club; it wouldn't have been as powerful, or made as much sense, had I not read that book first. I don't really understand why many people on Goodreads say it's "not as good as" The Liars' Club. To me, it was a natural continuation. The Liars' Club discussed Mary Karr's messed up childhood. What happens after a really messed up childhood? Usually, a really messed up adolescence, and that's what we get in Cherry. This book describes the time in her life when...more
When I picked up Cherry by Mary Karr, I didn’t know what to expect. I had no clue that this was a sequel to The Liars Club. If I knew this, I would read the first book first. Cherry is the story of a young teenage girl coming of age. It tells about Mary’s unstable family, first love, and as she gets older, drugs and sex. So if you are not interested in these kinds of things, then this book is not for you. It also has very strong language, but you could just block it out (like I did).

Mary Karr h...more
I was prompted to read Cherry in part because of a New York Times book review that declared "If The Liars' Club succeeded partly because of its riveting particularity, Cherry succeeds because of its universality." The Liars' Club is without a doubt a uniquely peculiar memoir of a cataclysmic childhood, and although I did not find Cherry "universal," I can totally see where the critic is coming from. Mary Karr does something strange in writing Cherry: for what feels like a good portion of the mem...more
Not nearly as good as the Liar's Club, unless you really really enjoy reading detailed accounts of other people's drug trips. To be fair, those episodes don't take up that much of the book, but something about this one just didn't hang together for me. I realize that adolescence is trippy and incohesive all by itself, and maybe that's what she was after, but I doubt it.

So there's the drug stuff, and some really good writing about sexual awakening (what's most gripping, actually, is the stuff wa...more
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Mary Karr is my hero. 4 35 Jul 03, 2012 04:41PM  
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Mary Karr is an American poet, essayist and memoirist. She rose to fame in 1995 with the publication of her bestselling memoir The Liars' Club. She is the Peck Professor of English Literature at Syracuse University.
The Liars' Club, published in 1995, was a New York Times bestseller for over a year, and was named one of the year's best books. It delves vividly and often humorously into her deeply t...more
More about Mary Karr...
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“No road offers more mystery than that first one you mount from the town you were born to, the first time you mount it of your own volition, on a trip funded by your own coffee tin of wrinkled up dollars - bills you've saved and scrounged for, worked the all-night switchboard for, missed the Rolling Stones for, sold fragrant pot with smashed flowers going brown inside twist-tie plastic baggies for. In fact, to disembark from your origins, you've done everything you can think to scrounge money save selling your spanking young pussy.” 10 likes
“The changes are coming fast and blind now, and in your skull sits an hourglass with a grain size hole through which numb seconds are sliding.” 5 likes
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