Cherry, Money, Baby



Spunky narrator breathes life into teen-lured-by-celeb plot.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Cherry, Money, Baby could be used to spark some interesting conversations about class, surrogate parents, celebrity obsession and more. See our discussion questions for specific ideas.

Positive messages

Cherry makes some poor judgment decisions here, but ultimately learns to live life on her own terms.

Positive role models

Cherry swears, cuts school, acts violently, and even gets suspended, but she does work to be a good person, speak her mind, and take care of her friends and family. Ultimately, she learns to live life on her own terms.


Cherry admits to having punched a girl, causing the girl to lose her tooth. She thinks about hitting another girl in the head with a paperweight. Her brother accidentally burns down a house. A boy roughhousing with another boy in a pool injures his ear.


Cherry performs oral sex on her boyfriend in a high school bathroom stall. Later, they have sex, which is only briefly described. She also makes out with another boy in his hotel room while they are using drugs. There are hookups at parties, a character thinks she might be pregnant after having unprotected sex, another character references a pregnancy scare. Cherry imagines what her belly would look like pregnant, and what a pregnancy would do to her body. Two young characters become pregnant. 


Lots of uses of "f--k." Cherry calls a girl a "bitch" and her brother a "man-whore," and refers to another character as a "d--k."


Some high end and junk food brands: Alfa Romeo Spider, Gremlin, BJ's Wholesale, Veuve Clicquot, Faviana, 7-11, Pixy Stix, Nerds, Bottle Caps, Mike & Ikes, Sno-CapsBubble Tape, People magazine, Converse.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters, including the teen protagonist, drink to drunkenness and take drugs. A pot-smoking boy burns down a house. Other characters smoke cigarettes, host parties with lots of drinking, bring underage characters to nightclubs, etc.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Cherry, Money, Baby includes mature material, including lots of swearing, partying with alcohol and more, and sex between teens, which one time results in an unplanned pregnancy. One of the plot points is about a celebrity who asks a teen -- Cherry -- to carry her baby. The protagonist is a mouthy and impulsive girl who gets grounded and suspended from school, among other things, though she's ultimately shown to be a girl with a good heart. She looks after her friends and family, and learns to create a life for herself on her own terms.

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What's the story?

Mouthy, impulsive Cherry lives in a trailer park with her dad and brother -- and next door her fiance, Lucas, a gentle artist who works with his dad as a janitor at her high school. When she saves the life of a celebrity in town to make a film, she suddenly has a new, unexpected friend. Charming Ardelia exposes Cherry to a glamorous, upper-crust lifestyle -- and presents her with a life-changing opportunity: She can make a quarter of a million dollars by renting out her womb and carrying Ardelia's baby.

Is it any good?


Let's get the obvious out of the way: CHERRY, MONEY, BABY is rather long, and readers may have a hard time knowing exactly what this story is about. The womb-renting proposal doesn't happen until nearly the 300th page. Also, it will take really careful readers to figure out how Cherry actually changes in the end. But teens will enjoy the ride anyway. The unusual narrator will keep them turning pages, trying to figure out just what Cherry is going to do -- or say! -- next. Plus, it's easy to get caught up in the chaos of the young celebrity parties Cherry gets to attend at Ardelia's side -- one of which takes place at an old English manor, complete with partygoers arriving by helicopter. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about class. Here, Cherry's family is struggling, while Ardelia was born rich -- and has only gotten richer. What challenges does this difference present?

  • Can you think of other books and movies about class? Is this something we talk about enough -- or correctly -- in our society?

  • Is it fair for Ardelia to use her money to pay for another woman to carry her child? Or is this situation inherently exploitive?

Book details

Author:John Cusick
Genre:Coming of Age
Topics:High school
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Candlewick Press
Publication date:September 10, 2013
Number of pages:400
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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