Review of Cherish Farrah by Bethany C. Morrow
My initial thought on seeing the title, Cherish Farrah, was that it referred to cherishing – worshipping – a girl named Farrah. And it does – but it’s also about a girl named Cherish, which makes the title an interesting play on words.
Bethany C.Morrow provides commentary on race and social class in America, weaving these themes through a slow burn psychological thriller that pulls you into the dark and twisty mind of seventeen-year-old Farrah and her warped relationship with her best friend, Cherish.
As the only two black girls in their school and community, they form a close, intimate bond that is more than a little codependent and creepy. They perform dangerous rituals to prove their trust of one another, each needing the other in an unhealthy, possessive way.
Cherish was adopted by a rich, white couple who provide their daughter with all of the “white privileges” that make her, in Farrah’s eyes, White Girl Spoiled. When Farrah’s parents hit financial rock bottom and are forced to sell their house, Farrah is incredibly angry with them and manipulates them into letting her stay with Cherish’s family, who welcome her with open arms. The girls, in their clinginess, sleep in the same bed, even though they are seventeen, in a house where surely there are enough bedrooms to give each girl their own.
The relationship between Farrah and her mother is as interesting as the one between Farrah and Cherish. There is much said of how Farrah and her mother aren’t like other people, though not a lot of evidence is given to support this, and I was left wondering, through most of the book, whether this was all Farrah’s imagination. She has what I would call hallucinations, but they seem to provide her with great insight into people’s motives and feelings. It’s unclear whether her mother has this same “gift”. I would have liked more of the mother-daughter relationship, more interaction and dialogue between them, more showing this unnamed “difference” they share.
While I related to Farrah and felt her behaviour to be plausible, in the context of her controlling, possessive nature, the actions of both sets of parents were harder to understand. All in all, this is a good little mystery, although I did find the narrator to be old beyond her years, using words a seventeen-year-old would typically not use. Then again, Farrah is anything but typical.
The ending, in true thriller fashion, took me by surprise – not so much because of what happened, but because I expected more from Cherish, though it does paint a vivid picture of just what can happen when you give yourself completely to another and fall under their spell. I can’t help but think of the Manson followers here, and it doesn’t get any more twisted than that.