Thirteen-year-old Cherry has never felt she fit in anywhere. She’s been brought up by her Dad in Glasgow; her mother hasn’t been around for many years. Always on the edge when it comes to fellow school friends, she makes up wild stories to try and endear herself to her peers and seem more interesting. Unfortunately though, her classmates see right through her tall tails and she becomes prime target for the class bully.
So when her Dad announces they are moving miles away to Somerset with his new partner Charlotte, it seems just the change of scene Cherry needs to start again. But Charlotte also has four vivacious daughters of her own and Cherry’s old insecurities soon return. Oldest sister Honey clearly doesn’t appreciate Cherry and her father moving in on her family, but when her boyfriend Shay turns his eye to Cherry it looks like any hopes she had for a happy family are as unlikely as the stories she can’t help but tell.
Cherry Crush is the most adorable book from the delicious cover (with the yummy pretty chocolate design continuing on the hardback under the jacket) to the super cute story inside. But it’s more than just cuteness itself with a touching and heartfelt story covering some very real issues.
What I really loved about Cathy Cassidy’s first book in The Chocolate Box Girls series are the fantastic characters of the five girls. This one focuses on Cherry, brought up by her father in the absence of her mother, although the reader is never sure where her mum is until quite near the end. My heart really went out to this sweet and insecure girl as she made up wild fantasies about her mother and each time became the focus of her classmates ridicule. Cassidy captures Cherry’s vulnerability perfectly and I think any young girl would be able to identify with her. Honey takes a major role too as the mean girl of the gang, until it becomes apparent that she’s also having a rough ride.
The setting is also as delicious and comforting as the handmade chocolates the new family are setting up in business with. Charmingly rural with a warm summer, chocolate festivals, picnics, and smuggler’s caves it’s the kind of place I loved reading about when I was younger. But beyond the idyllic country setting Cassidy picks up on family issues and insecurities, which will resonate with her audience. And there’s just enough romance to satisfy tweens and young teens without taking over the plot.
Cherry’s journey is an addictive one and is certain to capture the hearts of many, as is the rest of The Chocolate Box Girl’s who each promise a fascinating story. I was very surprised by a darker than expected ending which left me eager to read more. At the back of the book there are recipes for some of the sweet treats mentioned in the book and a fun quiz to find out which girl you’re most like, which rounded up the book very well and left me with a huge happy grin (I still love these kinds of quizzes!) I’d highly recommend Cherry Crush for girls age 9 up, and with Christmas just round the corner I can’t think of a better book present than this one!
Published in the UK September 2010 by Penguin
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy for review.