Seventeen-year-old Farrah Turner is one of two Black girls in her country club community, and the only one with Black parents. Her best friend, Cherish Whitman, adopted by a white, wealthy family, is something Farrah likes to call WGS--White Girl Spoiled. With Brianne and Jerry Whitman as parents, Cherish is given the kind of adoration and coddling that even upper-class Black parents can't seem to afford--and it creates a dissonance in her best friend that Farrah can exploit. When her own family is unexpectedly confronted with foreclosure, the calculating Farrah is determined to reassert the control she's convinced she's always had over her life by staying with Cherish, the only person she loves--even when she hates her.
As troubled Farrah manipulates her way further into the Whitman family, the longer she stays, the more her own parents suggest that something is wrong in the Whitman house. She might trust them--if they didn't think something was wrong with Farrah, too. When strange things start happening at the Whitman household--debilitating illnesses, upsetting fever dreams, an inexplicable tension with Cherish's hotheaded boyfriend, and a mysterious journal that seems to keep track of what is happening to Farrah--it's nothing she can't handle. But soon everything begins to unravel when the Whitmans invite Farrah closer, and it's anyone's guess who is really in control.
A somewhat-recovering expat living in the American Northeast (with one foot still firmly planted in Quebec), Bethany C Morrow writes speculative fiction for both the adult and the young adult market.
Her adult debut, MEM, was an ABA 2018 Indies Introduce pick, and a June Indie Next pick, and was featured/reviewed in: Locus Magazine, the LA Times, Buzzfeed, Book Riot, Bustle, and Tor.com, among others.
She was editor and contributor to TAKE THE MIC: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance, which released with AAL/Scholastic in October 2019.
Bethany's YA debut,, A SONG BELOW WATER is a contemporary fantasy, and releases in June 2020.
Whoa! This book is darker than my soul who creates so many plot lines for horror scripts! Even darker than Logan Roy’s heart from Succession!
I have to warn you: this book starts tooooooo SLOW! If you are person like me saying “let’s cut to the chase” more than hundred times a day and brief conversations are the crucial thing in her life, you cannot stand the movies like Meet Joe Black which gives you more pain than root canal, this book won’t fit with your expectations at the beginning!
But my advice to you: please be patient! This is social thriller slowly makes you engage with the characters and the escalation of events, slow high tension building will definitely alert your full attention and the ending… well, it’s argumentatively jaw dropping, somewhat nonsense but it is still surprising!
The plot line was also creative: only two black girls in the country club community: Farrah and Cherish, best friends for so long with different kind of inner dynamics.
Even though Cherish denies she’s acting like spoiled white kid, adopted by Brianna and Jenny Whitman who see her as their raison d’ etre! And poor Farrah is sent to live with them because of financial struggle of her family. Well, her inner turmoil and bottled up rage, gathering her CONTROL, saving face issues are detailedly mentioned at the beginning which gave me a few yawns. Thankfully when things get more crazier, I started to understand the motives of Farrah more. Look at Cherish living in oblivion, never has to work for a day to gain things she has!
It is too tough to express my feelings about this book without giving away too much!
As a summary: this is complex plot questions race, class differences, friendship, lies, secrets.
I especially enjoyed the further chapters where things are going darker!
Overall: bleak, shocking, jaw dropping, definitely blood freezing! Just be patient, after s getting through the slow start, you’ll be drawn into the main plot and you won’t want to leave it!
Special thanks to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP DUTTON for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
Cherish Farrah is a bone-chilling social horror novel that kept me reading into the night. The comparisons to Get Out and My Sister, the Serial Killer, are entirely apt.
Farrah Turner is obsessed with control. She analyzes every word and action directed at her. Farrah calculates her every action to keep everyone under her thumb. She lets her mask down for no one, including her best friend, Cherish Whitman, whom she loves as much as she hates.
When her parents fall into financial trouble, they decide it’s best that Farrah stay with the wealthy and white Whitman family. The Whitmans adopted Cherish when she was a baby. Farrah often calls Cherish White Girl Spoiled because her parents humour her to no end.
Being thrust into this position without consultation, Farrah feels the need to reassert her coveted control over the situation. Although, it’s not long before things start getting weird and terrifying, and Farrah has to wonder who is actually in control.
Note: I’d recommend not reading the book’s synopsis because it reveals most of what transpires.
This book examines the inequalities and intersectionality of race and class.
The first half is pretty slow and is very introspective. Farrah’s head is a dark and joyless place to be.
While most of the characters were unlikeable, they all had enough depth to make them thoroughly compelling. The way the author was able to up the threatening atmosphere while simultaneously keeping some characters oblivious to it was just excellent.
This book is not for the faint of heart. Everything gets wild and grisly around the midpoint, and the tension does not let up.
I look forward to reading more from the author. I see there is a nice backlist to explore.
Thank you to Dutton for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is the kind of insidiously creepy social horror novel that sneaks up on you. I should have figured it out long before I did, the clues were right there in front of me, but I just went with the flow of the story and was surprised when it is all laid out in the end.
This is the story of Cherish and Farrah, the only two Black girls in their upper class community. Cherish is the adopted daughter of white parents, and Farrah is her best friend. Farrah's parents have lost their home to foreclosure and Farrah has been living with Cherish while her parents sort out their lives. While this is the story on the surface, there is so much going on underneath.
This book very slowly and deliberately unfolds, and if a reader doesn't have the patience to let that happen, this isn't the book for them. It is told from Farrah's point of view, and readers aren't allowed to see anything that Farrah doesn't want them to see. While it's occasionally frustrating to be in her head, by the end you know that everything presented in this novel is completely intentional. Morrow's writing is a brilliant treatise on racism and classism and how it slowly, so slowly winds its way through our lives to the point where once we realize it is here, we don't know what to do about it or how to stop it.
This is the third book I've read by this author and they keep getting better and better. If you can handle a slow burn, this is a brilliantly written novel.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions are my own.
Cherish and Farrah are best friends and the only two black girls in their country club community. When Farrah's black parents are foreclosed on Farrah moves in with Cherish and her white adoptive parents. Brianne and Jerry Whitman open their arms and their home to Farrah but not everything is as it seems.
This book was a little different than other psych thrillers I read so kudo's to the author for changing things up and bringing something new to the table. Now I know what "social horror" is and that is that reality is far more horrifying than the stories we tell around a campfire. I'll admit this started a little slow and I found Farrah infuriating. I did not like how awful she was to her parents for losing their house. She came across as entitled but as you read on you realize she wants these things because Cherish has them and Cherish has them effortlessly. Never having to worry or to work for anything. She's White Girl Spoiled and doesn't even realize she lives inside a bubble that her parents made for her. She has no idea how the real world works for young black women. She has never had to struggle or to claw her way to the top like so many others do. Farrah wants to bring reality home for Cherish but the Whitmans aren't having that and soon a back and forth game of brutality plays out for the reader to witness.
Morrow's writing is razor sharp and she clearly put a lot of time and effort into this. Be prepared that their is a lot of vomiting and dry heaving and Farrah often refers to her internal rage and turmoil as coiling within and uncoiling out form her. "Control" is often used throughout the book as Farrah must always have control of her situation. These instances did become a little tedious but I assure you the ending more than makes up for that. It. Is. Dark. Don't mind me as I pick my jaw up off the floor. 😮 4 stars!
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group Dutton for my complimentary copy.
Farrah and Cherish are best friends. They're also the only two Black girls in their country club community. The girls bonded quite deeply around the 4th-grade. Now at 17, they're closer than ever.
Due to her parent's recent financial woes, Farrah's family is in a bit of an upheaval. Thus, she spends the majority of her time at Cherish's house. They have everything they could possibly want there and Cherish's adoptive White parents treat Farrah like a second daughter.
Farrah deserves this luxurious life just as much as Cherish and if her parents can't provide it for her, she's not afraid to get it elsewhere.
Regardless of all that static though, Farrah really loves Cherish. Doesn't she?
Told in a stream of consciousness narrative style from Farrah's perspective, the Reader gets to be a fly on the wall observing this unique and possibly codependent friendship.
Disturbing and tense, I really enjoyed my time reading Cherish Farrah. I'm not quite sure why the rating is so low for this one, but I am happy to be an outlier.
I won't claim to have understood all the nuance included within these pages, but I don't think I need too in order to appreciate the care and commitment Morrow poured into this story.
I have previously read A Song Below Water and A Chorus Rises by Morrow and enjoyed both of those as well. I feel like the writing style is quite similar over the three novels, but obviously with this one being Social Horror, the tone is quite different.
This one is definitely more in my lane than the previous two.
I would certainly classify this as a slow burn, but to me, it pays off. I was uneasy the whole way through, which frankly is a vibe I tend to enjoy. I wasn't sure who to trust. I kept flipping between the girls.
You can tell something is off, but who is causing that feeling? Is it Farrah, or is it Cherish? It was impossible for me to tell. It actually got a little stressful if I'm being honest. That just shows how invested I was. I felt it.
I also enjoyed the way Morrow explored race and privilege in this one. The dynamics of the characters families and relationships provided plenty of room for her to roam in that regard. I don't think I have ever read anything quite like it.
I would recommend this to people who enjoy Social Horror, or uneasy feeling narratives in general. Stick it out and I think you'll enjoy it. I certainly did!
Thank you to the publisher, Dutton Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it so much.
I'm such a fan of Bethany C. Morrow and will continue to pick up anything she writes!
I think at some point you just have to call an author quits and that is what I am doing after reading this book. This is my second time reading Morrow and my second time being thoroughly disappointed. The entire time I was reading this book I kept thinking:
Where is this going? Where is the editor? How did this get published?! Seriously, what is this book actually about?!!!
Honestly, save yourself the time and mental energy, skip this one.
It’s really disappointing when I don’t like a book that I was looking forward to. And I didn’t like this one at all. Based on the synopsis and the other (all positive) reviews I read, I was expecting a thrilling and horrifying read. It was advertised as a “social horror” in the vein of Get Out. But this was so boring and I only made it through the book because it was an ARC (and I was expecting a great twist, more on that later).
Cherish and Farrah are best friends and we are constantly reminded of this. Both are black teenage girls, but Cherish is the adopted daughter of white parents. They have nauseating nicknames for each other (RahRah and Che) and are so close that it’s disturbing.
This book starts extremely slow without much happening outside of the toxic dynamic between Cherish and Farrah being explored. Farrah’s parents are experiencing financial hardship and she’s living with Cherish and her family.
The plot didn’t seem to be going anywhere and I knew there had to be a twist. I wanted to know what it was, and though it takes a long time to get there, it’s eventually revealed.
*Spoilers* Farrah is Cherish’s “whipping girl” and her parents have been hurting Farrah intentionally to avoid punishing Cherish. Silly. Goofy. Implausible. We are not given enough clear information and the ending is just ridiculous. I disliked this from start to finish and I was totally disappointed.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This has been pitched as “Get Out” meets My Sister the Serial killer and I think it is fairly accurate as far as the central themes.
Like the sisters in My Sister the Serial Killer, Cherish and Farrah have a very unique, complicated, almost unhealthy relationship with each other. Cherish is one of two black girls in her wealthy community. She was adopted by a white family. She has everything her best friend Farrah wants. Farrah’s family home is foreclosed on. As her parents work to get back the luxurious life they had, Farrah is invited to stay at Cherish’s house.
Almost immediately you can see the unique, co-dependent relationship between the girls. As you progress through the book, it just gets weirder and weirder.
I liked this book. Although it wasn’t what I expected, I thought it was a unique story and I flew through it.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this arc
Seriously, though, this is quickly becoming my favorite genre. Many thanks to Jordan Peele for being the catalyst behind this movement because without him paving the way books like Cherish Farrah probably still wouldn’t be getting published. So with that being said, lemme just double-down on the Peele gifs.
Cherish and Farrah are the only two black girls in their gated community. They are as close as sisters – to the point where when Farrah’s parents lose their house Cherish’s family says why doesn’t Farrah just move in with them??? Farrah’s own parents don’t seem so keen on the idea, especially when Farrah falls ill and they aren’t informed. But Farrah doesn’t want to leave the lifestyle she has become accustomed to behind and is willing to do whatever is necessary to make sure the Whitman family knows she is quite possibly a better choice than their own adopted daughter.
To Bethany C. Morrow, allow me to say . . . .
While I did have a pretty good idea of what was going on as soon as the book was given to Farrah, it didn’t make the pages turn any slower and I will happily admit that by the time this sucker was over I was looking like . . . .
A slow rolling YA thriller that has your brain going one direction and abruptly takes a hard left.
Cherish and Farrah are best friends. They are two of the few black individuals in their community, with Farrah belonging to two black, biological parents and Cherish to two white, adoptive parents. This difference meant little to the two of them, apart from Farrah's gentle teasing that Cherish is 'White Girl Spoiled'. When Farrah's parents struggle from financial difficulties these differences start to become more apparent and she envies her friend the luxury and innocence her upbringing has afforded her. When she moves into Cherish's home she thinks she has a new understanding for what is occurring but the truth proves to be far more harrowing and horrifying than she, or the reader, could ever have imagined.
This was such a deceptively dark read. I anticipated a thrilling story but not one as sinister as this quickly proved to be. This is written in the vein of Get Out and Ace of Spades, where this fictional family is as called into question as their real world equivalents. It exposed many of the racist and classist systems, politics, history, and ideologies that this community, and many like it, are built upon.
Every single one of the characters this story contained had something to prove, something to hide, and provided many reasons to distrust them. I somehow still liked them all. Morrow crafted them as likable and sometimes vulnerable. Their suffering was given as much attention as their many manipulations and so it became as easy to empathise with them as it did to acknowledge their villainy.
These exposed dualities ensured this a novel with an unguessable trajectory and it wasn't until Morrow was finally ready to expose the truth that I became privy to it. What was revealed left me open-mouthed! This was a truly sinister read and the path to it was as unforgettable as all that was learned at its close.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Bethany C. Morrow., and the publisher, Dutton, for this opportunity.
What the heck did I just read? This book was so weird. I kept feeling like I was right on the cusp of it getting to the good part. So I just kept reading to get to that ah-ha moment. It never came. I’m sure there is supposed to be some deep meaning behind these Black kids being parented by well meaning white folks. I’m not willing to dig deep enough to grasp that message. It was way too muddled for my liking. This story was more cringeworthy than entertaining. All it did was get on my nerves. If I had read a hardcover copy instead of an ebook, I would’ve hurled it across the room when I finished.
This may be one of the most annoying books I’ve ever finished. The whole thing is baffling and utterly ridiculous. It’s tense and confusing enough that you want to keep reading just to understand what the heck is going on. I spent just about every page thinking “what is going on? Why? I don’t get this at all.” And I still don’t get it in the end. The explanation is so bizarre and the ending both lacks resolution and meaning. There’s a whole other layer going on also with Farrah “seeing” and “hearing” people who (I think?) aren’t really there which adds to the strangeness. Every character is either weak or awful and I have absolutely no idea whose side I’m supposed to be on. I’m very annoyed to have actually finished this only to feel just as baffled as I was when I started.
I’m not sure about this book. I was reading to figure it all out but the story is so random that I kept feeling confused. It also was super repetitive. The author says the book isn’t YA (which I get) but it read too juvenile to be for adults. It was suspenseful but the payoff wasn’t there.
i wanted to like this book so bad. but with the extremely slow pacing, two annoyingly angsty mc’s, and the weird stream of consciousness internal dialogue i just couldn’t really get into it. the idea of where i thought this story was going was far more interesting than the actual twist.
also it just feels so icky to me how the mc sees her black parents in comparison to her friends adoptive white parents. she talks about how her parents are so manipulative and cunning and ruthless and yet there’s nothing to prove it. they just seemed like folks that fell on hard times and couldn’t continue to afford the lifestyle she was accustomed to. but no she literally loathes them for the entirety of the book and idk it just rubbed me the wrong way especially when the twist is revealed and she still seems to put the white parents on a pedestal.
i can appreciate a good social commentary/horror but i don’t think it was done entirely well here.
Honestly, I did not enjoy this book for about 85% of it. It ended with quite the bang that was all at once horrific, thrilling, suspenseful, and thought provoking - enough so that I will round up from 2.5 to 3 stars.
Normally, I love hating a main character. It can be so fun to read about characters behaving badly. However, I'm not sure I've ever disliked a narrator more than I disliked Farrah. She was honestly just awful. Manipulative, condescending, controlling (good god I never need to hear the word "control" again - NINETY-FIVE times in this 336 page book - yes I checked!), deceitful, and just utterly disingenuous. I hated the way she treated Cherish, Cherish's family, and her own parents. She was truly just abhorrent.
I wanted more on the racial aspects of a black girl being adopted by a white family. Cherish's parents were incredibly wealthy and we repeatedly heard about how Cherish was "white girl spoiled," but I think the book could have done more with this throughout the novel (and not saved it all for the end).
I did this book on audio and thought the narrator for Farrah did really well. Her voice was soothing and she played the part really well.
By the end, this book was certainly thought provoking, I wish it had just gotten there faster. Most of the book was Farrah telling us about how smart and in control she was and I wanted more action and plot.
Ultimately, this isn't one I'll be recommending but I am glad I picked it up and I'll be interested to see what else this author publishes in the future.
1, 2, 3, 4….5 stars for this bone chilling thriller!
Who knew I was into social thrillers?! My brain is blown in the best possible way! This started as a slow delicious build into something that came out of nowhere! Totally unpredictable and absolutely nuts! I didn’t know who to trust the more I read. I appreciate how this book covered intersectionality concerning race and class. It’s best if you go in blind—don’t look at anything!
“After a while, I can’t feel Cherish’s hand in mine anymore, but I know it’s there, under the water. That’s what happens when you hold anything long enough. You stop feeling it. No matter how much you want to. No matter how much you try to treasure it, you can’t. And maybe that’s as far as most people ever know. That if you hold on, you lose the feeling. But I know there’s always a way to get the feeling back. You have to disrupt the calm. You have to tighten your grip, crush it a little to remember you’ve got a hold on something.”
I will be reading all of Bethany’s backlist because her writing is gahmazing!!
I received a free e-copy of Cherish Farrah by Bethany C. Morrow from NetGalley for my honest review.
Cherish is the black daughter of a very wealthy white couple. Farrah, her best friend, is black and her parents are as well. Together, these girls seem to have it all. Then Farrah's mom loses her job, and their house is foreclosed on. Forcing them to make some changes which include leaving Farrah behind with her best friend Cherish and her parents to live. What seems like a perfect situation, goes wrong when lots of strange things start to happen.
We follow the friendship between 16-year-old Cherish and 17-year-old Farrah when Farrah's family is going through some difficult times and she has to stay with spoiled, happy-go-lucky Cherrish. Farrah yearns for control of her life and everyone around her but lately some strange things are starting to happen.
This book... I really get the comparison between it and Get Out, but whereas the movie even though had a "supernatural" concept, the world and the characters were still grounded on reality, having real emotions and reactions, this book does not.
First, Farrah didn't read as a 17-year-old, mainly because of the stilted way the author decided to write her inner monologue and we spend a lot of time in her head. It's extremely difficult to care about a character that keeps the reader at a distance. Her reactions to everything that is going on are extremely unbelievable and the assumptions she makes about all the adults around her are grounded on nothing. I couldn't understand why she had the kind of relationship she had with her parents and why she would latch on so fiercely to Cherrish's parents. Cherrish is simply forgetable, she is more a prop than an actual character. She needs to exist for the plot to move along, but she is nothing more than a plot point. And by the end, what she does is extremely unbelievable and unfounded. I hated the ending because it is just not believable enough especially for her character to do what she did.
For the actual plot, once again how everything is set up doesn't make sense. The whole motivation for the plot twist is simply not there, when the explanation comes it's completely bonkers because it's not followed through. It's just happening because it's happening but the author did try to explain it, but it doesn't make sense.
My problem with the book it's not that concept is absurd or far fetched, it's that how every single character acts and reacts is too unbelievable and unrealistic, preventing the story to make sense. And also I didn't like the writing, it's too stilted and it didn't flow.
Thank you Netgalley, author, and publisher for the ARC.
THIS BOOK. Ok, I stayed up later than intended last night to finish this.... which was a surprise to me since I struggled a bit through the first half. Even *almost* DNF'd it because it's so character driven and I was a bit tired of being in Farrah's head. BUT then it started to get REALLY interesting and I'm so very happy I stuck with it.
I would definitely recommend going into this without reading the synopsis as I feel it gives away a bit too much. And I only know this because I went back to read it to see if I was missing something from this read. I absolutely love what Morrow did with this story. Racism, classism and CONTROL. I honestly couldn't figure out why this was labeled horror but then I GOT IT. All the subtle clues .. brilliant! I kind of had an idea that what I thought wasn't what it was and then got a glimmer of what I thought it could be but was definitely surprised by exactly WHY it was the way it was and this made this book for me 100%.
Farrah is manipulative and in need of control at all time. Constantly overthinking and pays attention to every single little detail. (Not gonna lie, I do this a lot too and it's NOT good for the brain!) Cherish is no better.. but she can't really even help herself. Adopted by White parents and "White girl spoiled" (as Farrah calls her), she's protected from all the things she probably should be learning about for when she actually has to get out into the real world. How this all comes together is what makes the book so delicious and I loved seeing it,
There is one scene in this book that will stick with me forever but you'll have to read this book to figure out which one it could be. 😉
The way this book did exactly what the foreshadowing told me it was going to do and I was still gagged?
I don't think this is a perfect book, though certainly a fun book, and definitely one that took me on a wild ride as the narrative deepened. I'm still not fully sure what to make of what I read, though I do know that ending is gonna stick with me for quite some time. Definitely a book that needs to be experienced to be discussed, but also not sure that you lose anything by not picking it up?
Part of that is because I went in expecting your standard thriller, something along the lines of the Roommate or Single White Female, and that's not really what I got? Though those same unsettling vibes, this sense of unease is certainly something that permeates the book and gives it more that light horror vibe. At least for me. Something more psychological than suspense if that helps.
If you are going to pick it up just know that themes of violence and abuse are pretty central to the underlying narrative and are pretty unavoidable if you are going to read the book.
I had a long, probably rambling review all planned out - I took detailed notes and everything - but then I thought better of it. This book isn't worth the deep introspection I'd normally engage in.
If you take anything from this review it is this:
If you know what the is about, whether you've actually read it or not, then you know the entirety of this story already.
That in and of itself wouldn't be enough to completely discount its merits. I love retellings and that largely means I know the most important bits to the story going in. I still have a good time as long as the story is executed well.
It absolutely does not work here because it's a thriller which hinges on you not knowing what is going on. I'm not saying a retelling can't be thrilling in its own right. Part of the appeal in a retelling is how the author uses familiar story elements to craft a unique interpretation. What I am saying is that Morrow ruins the entire book by having Cherish's mother literally gift Farrah the key to the twist - - a quarter of the way in.
If you are the least bit aware of or Google it because it's such a pointed clue then you've effectively spoiled the whole concept.
There is nothing past this juncture worth reading for in spite of this revelation. The book has nothing going for it other than desire to see the conclusion of the mystery. With that removed right out the gate I was bored to tears.
Farrah is not nearly as clever as she thinks she is which despite being her fatal flaw makes over half the book remarkably tedious as Morrow's way of proving it is to simply have Farrah reiterate how conniving and cunning and manipulative she is. If she really were all that bad I doubt she'd be wasting so much time discussing it she'd simply be bad.
The supporting characters are insignificant which not only runs in direct opposition to what the synopsis suggests, but also hurts the story tremendously when you consider how much more impactful the story could have been if Morrow had not insisted on making reveal so pivotal. The book would have been a lot better if that had been intentionally revealed early on leaving the rest of the book for further exploration of its themes.
Speaking of themes, the messaging in this book was ridiculously heavy handed. One of the reviews likens it to Get Out, but the subtle intelligence of Get Out was completely lost. It's overt to the point of silliness instead.
At one point a white character outright states Black people need to suffer as that's what makes them resilient as a race - their capacity to make do with little and roll with the punches. Farrah doesn't call this out as the clearly racist pseudoscientific hogwash disguised as admiration it is. She agrees with her. She was upset at the betrayal surrounding the conversation, not at all at the reasoning.
And before you ask, no, it is not presented as if Farrah's internalized racism is jumping out. While the white character is meant to sound ridiculous, Farrah, even as disconnected from mental stability as she is at the time, is meant to be our 'hero' in that moment meaning her logic is sound. It's not total approval from Farrah, to be fair to her, but the whole argument verges way too close to romanticizing pain; Morrow lowkey promotes the pervasive misconception that struggle is required to succeed.
Contrary to popular belief, America has never been a meritocracy particularly not for Black people. I am not discounting the strength it took us to overcome our hardships. I am indebted to those that came before me for what they endured so I can do something as simple as use any water fountain I want out in public. Still, it is harmful for all of us to act like we are strong specifically and only because of that.
For one thing, there is so much more to us as a community than our 'strength' as defined solely by the ability to take it on the chin perpetually. For another, the unshakeable force that is white supremacy is proof enough that the unique obstacles we've faced has not been equal to the cushy lifestyles white people - note I talking about white people on a systemic level as there absolutely are poor, disadvantaged white people as well - have afforded. If you look at it from that perspective it's easy to see it's not advantageous to suffer. It's simply what we've been fed to keep us from questioning the 'natural' order. Our absorption of this rhetoric has been so complete we now view it as a racial badge of honor when the real honor would be to get to a point where no Black person has to claw their way to the top any longer.
Farrah somewhat understands this as her whole character is about ingratiating herself to the Whitman family to secure a solid position in life going forward. I think the reason it falls apart is that since this is a subconscious thought on Morrow's part rather than a conscious reflection on the character it goes unchallenged because Morrow doesn't see what the issue is in the first place. I don't usually subscribe to the idea that a character's opinions reflect the authors' opinions, but in this instance I do believe that that's the case.
I hated the ending. It was intended to be a horrifying culmination of all of Farrah's darker impulses; instead it was the literary equivalent to a Lifetime movie ending.
The codependency was not played up enough between Farrah and Cherish for me to believe she could manipulate Cherish to do what she does Especially given the reservations Cherish already had about Farrah over the course of the novel. And especially given who the person involved is to Cherish. Cherish is definitely reliant on Farrah, but it was absolutely not to a level that I feel she'd choose her over this other person.
The poorly developed characters hurt Cherish the most as, despite the unreliability to Farrah's narration, Cherish really does end up being no more than what Farrah thinks of her. Not only does this go against the whole central theme to the story, i.e. that Farrah's inability to see outside her own biases will be her downfall, it also is a disservice to the quality as it was far better when it was unclear how culpable Cherish was in the series of events.
The narrative's insistence this 'dark, despicable' act would truly cement the relationship was ridiculous. As we've seen in real life people with money and contacts like the Whitmans can get their children out of far worse scrapes easily. Farrah did not make herself any more essential in the slightest. It’d be super simple to set her up as the fall guy, get therapy for Cherish and move the heck on as she rots in prison.
I know I said I wouldn't do a long, rambling review and this looks like the opposite but I promise you this is only scraping the surface. I could have gone way harder if I wanted to. Seriously, pass on this one. I regret rushing to finish it before my check-out expired. I wish I’d simply let it expire blissfully unaware of what I was missing.
I feel iffy on any books labeled as YA horror, but I'm happy to see that Cherish Farrah didn't hold back! And while it does have some effective shock factors, it could never hold my full attention. Interested in this author though, definitely a more interesting novel that pulls no punches.
While this book has a very slow start with an inaccessible narrator, it was unsettling enough to keep me reading so that I could learn where it was going. Because even when the seemingly biggest clue is handed out on a silver platter it seems like their should still be more. There’s just so much about the story that I ultimately don’t understand- is Farrah a sociopath or psychopath? Is she delusional? What is the point of the struggle of her relationship with her mother? What makes the “whipping boy” idea appealing to the Whitmans? Why would they even need to consider it? Why would Cherish chose Farrah over her mother? How can these two girls as they’re presented in the book ever become adults? I can’t picture how their lives unfold after the end of the book or why I should care. Maybe it’s more allegorical than literal and I’m just missing the point but this was odd and disappointing.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
“Being a spoiled white girl when you’re Black is literally my favorite thing ever. It confuses very literally everyone.” “That’s the only reason I put up with it
Polite society is a misnomer.
She’s the only person I still love when I hate her.
Whatever else you are, you’re still a Black girl. One day you’ll know how impossible it is to tell the difference between personalized terror aimed straight at you, and good ole run-of-the-mill systemic prejudice.
Cherish was a spoiled white girl who also happened to be Black, and it meant that the consequence of coddling, the incompetence it breeds, was dangerous.
It has been over a day since I finished reading this one and I am quite conflicted and have been stewing and unable to start another book while I ruminate. I vacillated while reading but just couldn’t grasp all that was going on in this disturbing, multi-faceted, and complex tale. I occasionally felt lost, and frequently addled and confused while trying to understand the logic and symbolism the characters employed. And I wasn’t the only one as they were confusing and confounding each other as well.
There was a surfeit of personality disorders, anger, smoldering resentment, and an annoying sense of entitlement, as well as significant features of mental illness to wade through. I was invested and motivated, yet I couldn’t put all the pieces together, it was beyond my plane of experience or comprehension. Regardless, the various characters’ level of sociopathy was chilling and distressing.
I still can’t settle on whom I despise more, as every single one of them was a source of deep disappointment to me in the end. There were no heroes in this tale but quite a few victims. I must surrender and move on, yet I give the author her due and respect her process and word prowess. Ms. Morrow kept me on edge, off-balance, and intrigued.
An obsession between two teenaged girls goes from unhealthy to dreadfully dire, as their families watch and play a part in one another's lives.
Oof. I really wanted to like this domestic thriller about an eerily creepy wealthy white family, their adopted Black daughter, and their adopted daughter's only Black friend. All the messages about race, particularly about Black women, are spot on and important. Which is why I am giving this at least 2 stars. But the sloooow burn, the rushed conclusion, and the overly descriptive narrative just left me feeling ready to get this book over with and move on to my next read.
I think the biggest issue I had with Farrah's narrative is that she does not sound like a 16 year old girl, but rather a Harvard professor of literature. Her thoughts are way too detailed, way too contrived. Farrah will spend 10 beautifully wordy sentences describing someone's facial expression. 5 sentences on how she's trying to act in control. All of her little analyses and figures of speech take up so much space, that there's very little else that goes on for pages at a time. Until the last 20 pages or so of the novel when everything comes crashing down and the book just...ends.
Thank you Penguin Group Dutton, Bethany C. Morrow, and NetGalley for providing me an arc in exchange for an honest review. I do want to say that the cover is stunning and immediately caught my eye. Unfortunately this book did not work for me. My favorite part of it was the social commentary but the writing style was not something I enjoyed and I found it extremely vague (I know this was intentional) and hard to read. The only reason I kept reading to the end was because I was provided an arc and wanted to see if there was a big twist at the end! The big twist unfortunately wasn't worth reading this book for. I think if someone really enjoys social horror novels and is not bothered by extremely vague and slow burn horror, this would be for them. The whole time it is clear that something very unsettling is happening and in movies I enjoy this but it must not work as well for me in book form.
"But you only get so many of those moments, where chaos can be invited and you still know it's safe."
Oh MAN this was a dark, chilling and addictive read. Once I started, I couldn't stop reading trying to figure out what was going on and what would happen next. I love how the story was told right from Farrah's eyes and I saw everything the way she did. This was a complicated story about intense friendships, toxic relationships and f*cked up families. That ending?! My jaw literally dropped. This story was so well written and gripping, it had me on the edge of my seat. I'm a sucker for a good HEA and don't read much horror, so while I didn't love this one, I definitely enjoyed it and it kept my attention the entire time!
Thank you so much Dutton Books for inviting me to read this e-ARC on Netgalley!
Genre: Thriller, Horror Recommended? ☑️ Due for publication on 2/8/22