reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo
“She isn’t just the home I’ve chosen; I’m the one who mattered. I’m the one who saw her. When she thought she was comfortable in the life her parents made for her, even with their hair and skin care classes, and their social awareness, and the way they’ve been intentional in raising a healthy, protected Black daughter. They made her vulnerable. They gave her a void, and I filled it.” –Farrah Turner, Cherish Farrah
If you are expecting a light, funny novel about two Black girls in a white community who become best friends, this book isn’t it. Cherish Farrah is dark and gets darker. Told from the point of view of Farrah, we only see what she sees and she is not a reliable narrator. We only hear what her thoughts are; they are dark and creepy.
Bethany C. Morrow has created a masterpiece where the plot line is creative and terrifying but familiar in an uncomfortable way. Farrah and Cherish have been best friends since they were five; the only two Black girls at a private school in a white country club community. The only difference between them is that Farrah’s parents are Black and Cherish’s adoptive parents are white; with Farrah sometimes telling her she was just like a spoiled white kid. When her parents become bankrupt and must sell their house in this privileged community, Farrah goes to stay with the Whitmans, who treat her like a second daughter. She becomes increasingly jealous and enraged that her parents can’t even keep a house while Cherish lives in oblivion and never has to want for anything. Farrah is increasingly manipulative, needing control at all times. “Control” is always on her mind. Especially with her mother, whom she calls Nichole Turner rather than Mom. As the book gets creepier, we start to understand what is really going on in the Whitman household and that maybe Farrah is just the one who receives consequences for Cherish’s actions.
Cherish Farrah stars off slowly. As the reader, I couldn’t determine if Farrah was a psychopath or a victim. It is a slow burn and well worth the wait when it picks up towards the middle of the book. This is a “social thriller”, meaning a film or book genre using suspense and horror to augment instances of oppression in society. The plot includes a lot of questions regarding race, friendship, lies, and class differences. We engage with both characters; though we only hear from Farrah. Morrow is skilled with her words as we can feel the tension slowly building between each character, which brings us to a conclusion that is both jaw dropping and also a little weird.
As one of the most talked about books of the year, this was incredibly sinister, with each character having something to prove, and not in a good way. Yet, they were all likable and easy to empathize with. It is a book you want to look away from but are mesmerized by what you think is going to happen. As the reader, I certainly won’t forget Cherish Farrah for a long time.