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Cherry

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  7,310 Ratings  ·  505 Reviews
This memoir of adolescence follows the earlier volume by Mary Karr, The Liars' Club. In Cherry, we find Karr once again trying to run from the thrills and terrors of her psychological and physical awakening by violently crashing up against authority in all its forms, shuttling between the principal's office and the jail cell. Yearning, like a typical teenager, for the idea ...more
Paperback, 276 pages
Published 2002 by Pan MacMillan (first published January 1st 2000)
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Daena I did, but I think the books can stand alone. I read Lit before I read either of the earlier two books. They are all great!

Community Reviews

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Melki
Jan 07, 2016 Melki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Good men want a virgin
So don't you give yourself too soon
'Cept in an emergency
Like underneath the moon.
*

"I am not very successful as a little girl.  When I grow up, I will probably be a mess."
from the eleven-year-old Mary Karr's diary


It's been more than twenty years since I read Karr's first memoir, The Liars' Club.  I'm pretty sure I enjoyed it, though the only part I really remember is a very young Mary Karr, while on a bus trip with her sister, smacking the man in front of her on the head wit
...more
Jessica
Feb 18, 2011 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Caitlin Constantine
Mar 18, 2009 Caitlin Constantine rated it it was amazing
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
Jennifer
Nov 24, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was ok
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
Monty J Heying
Jun 17, 2012 Monty J Heying rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
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
Anna
Feb 06, 2012 Anna rated it really liked it
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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
The prologue of this chapter of Mary Karr's life starts out with an exciting dramatic departure from home on a road trip with surfer boys. If the entire memoir had only been that story, or her life after that story, I think it would have been far stronger. Having read The Liars' Club last year, I had the impression this was about the next phase of her life. And it is, sometimes. But a lot of it rehashes the same territory, maybe from a slightly different angle, or telling a different story, but ...more
Deb
Jan 20, 2009 Deb rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
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
Kathryn
Feb 01, 2013 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-biography
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
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
Hardcover Hearts
Feb 26, 2008 Hardcover Hearts rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hardcover 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
Karo
Feb 09, 2012 Karo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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
Jenna
Jun 07, 2013 Jenna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Lisa
Jan 16, 2016 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Mary Karr is a unique author who does not hold back in telling you her own faults and her real feelings about anything and everything including her family and acquaintances. Her stories of growing up in Texas are colorful. She captures the feelings she had as a teen in such a sincere way that it almost embarrasses one to be in on the conversations between her and her parents or watching as she stumbles her way through adolescence. A very entertaining read.
Kate
May 20, 2010 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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.
Kathy
Oct 11, 2008 Kathy rated it it was ok
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.
Jacob Andra
Aug 13, 2011 Jacob Andra rated it it was amazing
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.
Amy
Jul 20, 2010 Amy rated it it was amazing
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.
Kressel Housman
As part of my McCourt Brothers binge, I found a video in which Frank McCourt participates in a panel discussion of the art of the memoir with three other writers. Mary Karr was the only woman among them, so I was drawn to her book first. Her best-selling memoir is called The Liars' Club, but I skipped right to this one because I wanted to learn how an accomplished female writer tackles that all-important milestone of everyone’s life: losing one’s cherry.

Like with many women, there were lots of d
...more
Christina
Jun 13, 2017 Christina rated it really liked it
So basically, this is a good book, but it doesn't hold a candle to her previous memoir, "The Liars Club." That book was transcendent in its exploration of what it means to craft the story of your own past. "Cherry," in contrast, lacks a unifying theme (is it about sex? Drugs? Surfing?). Still, no one writes like Karr. As a poet, she just kills it in her descriptive language. So I look forward now to moving on to the last book in her trilogy, "Lit," which seems to be the most highly regarded of t ...more
Audrey
Mar 13, 2017 Audrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four stars for the creativity and evocative writing of this memoir. A note of caution: it will be tough going if you're squeamish about drug use and sex. But I've rarely read descriptions of being high that so well capture the disconnection from reality and the sense of being untethered from one's life.

Perhaps the untethering explains Karr's somewhat perplexing decision to mix first-person and second-person narration. I've been puzzling over this choice. In fact, one reason I decided to read th
...more
Lauren
Mar 15, 2017 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a special book. Mary Karr writes her childhood and coming of age story from a believable perspective of girlhood self. She isn't writing to reflect or judge what was good or wrong or exciting. She tells it like it happened. Black and white don't exist, there's only grey. Sometimes drugs are bad and sometimes they're great, parents are flawless and flawed, kids can be tender and mean--all at once. Pairs well with Carrie Fountain's book of poems: BURN LAKE.
Tabitha Blankenbiller
Cherry has two distinct features that set it apart from other memoirs I have read recently: first, It’s written in second person. The narrator separates herself from the character moving through the world and looks away at her as a “you,” giving the illusion that the audience is a disembodied self. The second characteristic is the linear structure of the book. This is not a series of vignettes or short stories. This is a long arcing book, moving from elementary school to the twilight of high sch ...more
Brian Bess
Jun 16, 2017 Brian Bess rated it really liked it
The cherry ripens

When I learned that Mary Karr is only four months and one day older than me, her childhood experiences gained more resonance for me. While her childhood was vastly different from mine, I could relate to her as an exact contemporary so that I knew she was encountering the cultural and societal changes of the 1960’s and early 1970’s as I was. This is a personal reaction that adds depth to my reading of any of her memoirs.

After a brief prologue in 1972 in which Mary, at age sevente
...more
Tl Wagener
Sep 28, 2013 Tl Wagener rated it it was ok
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
Jasmine Serrano
Jan 29, 2017 Jasmine Serrano rated it really liked it
"Our own features in youth have not yet been sharply carved. So in some way, we don't exist yet. Thus we mock ourselves for loving so easily and in the process choke the breath from our first darlings."

I've read some memoirs that read like essays and others that read like novels; Cherry fits in with the latter. Karr's prose is lyrical, and her mastery of descriptive detail is impressive -- so impressive, that I wonder if it isn't her memories per se she describes, but an embellished adult interp
...more
Grant
Jun 15, 2016 Grant added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Grant by: Meghan Pinson
I thought this book is a raw honest autobiography, written only the way May Karr can write it, with painful emotions being stripped down to their word essence, and her descriptions of the insecurities and intricate relationships in her life laid out so that the reader can actually Be her. Amazing gift she has. I did not like this as much as her first, Liar's Club, but that isn't a criticism as much as a testament to how good Liar's Club actually IS! I would recommend this book to anyone: especia ...more
Tima
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
Lori
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.

Eh.

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
Carol Kowalski
Jul 16, 2010 Carol Kowalski rated it did not like it
This book doesn't do anything or go anywhere. Karr never earns sufficient empathy or interest from the reader to make the second-person voice work. The teenaged Karr in the memoir is so bloodless and perfunctory that the reader wants to revolt against the incessant "you" with a shout of "no I do NOT! No I am NOT!" There are too many great books to read to waste time with this one, even if you liked "Liar's Club" and"Lit".
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Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff Pick - Cherry by Mary Karr 1 6 Jun 16, 2017 03:27PM  
Mary Karr is my hero. 4 37 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
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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.” 15 likes
“And Meredith says that reminds her of a Camus novel, the one about the plague, and she tells the story of it, the tale holding you in thrall, and she ends her version with a line you’ll write down in your notebook, the place where the atheist doctor hollers at a priest: All your certainties aren’t worth one strand of a woman’s hair.” 7 likes
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