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3.54  ·  Rating details ·  9,601 ratings  ·  1,329 reviews
Jesus' Son meets Reservoir Dogs in a breakneck-paced debut novel about love, war, bank robberies, and heroin.

Cleveland, 2003. A young man is just a college freshman when he meets Emily. They share a passion for Edward Albee and Ecstasy and fall hard and fast in love. But soon Emily has to move home to Elba, New York and he flunks out of school and joins the Army. Desperate
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published August 14th 2018 by Knopf
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Yonit It is an autobiographical novel. When he goes to Iraq, there is the following passage:
When we got back to the FOB, guys were waiting for us in the mot…more
It is an autobiographical novel. When he goes to Iraq, there is the following passage:
When we got back to the FOB, guys were waiting for us in the motor pool. They asked us what all had happened and who had got killed and what we had seen. I wasn’t much good for telling them anything. I went and talked to Shoo. Shoo thought it was funny that I was being such a bitch about it. He was laughing at me some. He said I’d just got my cherry popped.

He later refers to all new soldiers as "cherries".(less)

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Average rating 3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,601 ratings  ·  1,329 reviews

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Oct 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t care for addiction fiction. I pretty much hated this book. Repetitive. Nothing particularly new. There are indeed some good lines and some humor. The ending is interesting in what it doesn’t offer. The misogyny is so thick it’s almost funny. Almost. People are terrible and it’s great when they are free to be terrible in fiction so I am not saying the men in this book have to be not sexist. But I am saying I don’t enjoy reading about men who hate women for hundreds of pages.
I have a lot in common with Nico Walker, author of the recently released debut novel, Cherry. We both partied too hard and failed out of college in the early 2000’s, both then enlisting in the wartime army at twenty years old. After basic training we were both stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. We didn’t know each other but it is possible we rubbed shoulders in one of the nightclubs in Killeen or at the 24-hour gas station near the entrance of post where you could buy liquor and smokes at any hour o ...more
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These sentences come at you like rapid fire and it took several pages for me to fall into the cadence. This is a story of love, war, drug addiction and crime. A fictionalized account of the author’s life written while in prison, it is deeply depressing although not without flashes of humor. The author’s back-story makes me wonder how he survived to write this novel. Walker took part in over 250 missions as a combat medic and is highly decorated. The publicist has a lot to work with here.

The war
Chaunceton Bird
Not bad. It's written well enough, and the story is compelling, but yeesh, what a groveling, complaining, myopic narrator. Let's call a spade a spade here, this is an autobiography with the names changed. This is Nico Walker's story. And although it is well told, it is a dismal story of decline that is hard to empathize with.

In a way it's existential. Like Meursault from The Stranger, our self-loathing protagonist doesn't really care about anything or anybody but himself, and even then, not so
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-stars
Nico Walker isn't your typical novelist. For one, he wrote his debut novel, Cherry, in prison. Not only that, but he remains in prison to this day. In his expletive-ridden, Hunter S. Thompson-esque, Ernest Hemingway-ish, autobiographical novel, he tells us the story of how he got there. In this starkly honest middle American romp, Walker truly impresses with his ability to put words to the images of his memory. The prose is not sophisticated, flowery, or complex—it's better than all that. Readin ...more
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nico Walker is currently serving time in prison for bank robbery; his debut novel Cherry is essentially his fictionalized autobiography, in which the unnamed narrator dispassionately recounts dropping out of college, enlisting in the army, shipping out to Iraq, serving as an army medic, returning home, and developing PTSD as well as an opioid addiction.

Cherry is a deeply uncomfortable book to read on just about every level. The war scenes and depictions of drug abuse are graphic, the language i
Ron Charles
We’ve heard these war stories before, in superb fiction and nonfiction by other soldiers. But Nico Walker, 33, brings a raw and casual brutality to the narrative of battle. His rambling collection of chaotic anecdotes involve drugs and porn, acts of cruelty and kindness, unending boredom pierced by spikes of terror. These juxtapositions convey the fundamental disorder of the American mission and its deleterious effect on the young people forced to implement it. His language, relentlessly profane ...more
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read, usa
This debut novel is advertised as a work of fiction, but it is clearly at least partly autobiographical - it's pretty hard to find out how big the overlap between the unnamed narrator and the author is though, as Nico Walker is still in jail, serving an eleven-year-sentence for bank robbery. That's also where he wrote this novel about a guy who dropped out of college, joined the army, served as a medic in Iraq, consequently suffered from severe PTSD, self-medicated with heroin, and, short of mon ...more
* 3.5 *

An incredibly tough read and also near impossible for me to write a review of; because it feels akin to reviewing someones life. This is auto-fiction and as such I am fighting my nature to want to untangle the fact from the fiction, but that way lies madness.
If there is one reason to pick up this novel then, it is for the sections set in Iraq. Walker gives a very believable, no frills account of the life of a lower ranking officer in Iraq circa 2005. The picture he paints is ugly but ent
Aug 26, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, 2018-odyssey
DNF 13%

Here's the thing. If you read Catcher in the Rye at the right age you think Holden Caulfield is great, you don't and you think he's unbearable. Ditto here, and the writing wasn't engaging. The blurb promised nonstop excitement--ah, no. I'm bored. I need more than obvious observations and drug use to be entertained. Great cover is not enough.

Life's too short. Outta here.
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On a Highway to Hell

Red-hot, Raw and Howling tour de force of Demoralization and Descent into the early 21st century Abaddon and Beelzebul of many young American men: war and opioids (the most powerful of which is heroin).

Reminiscent of a roughcut Denis Johnson' Jesus' Son and of a shorter, a little less bitter Céline's Journey to the End of Night.

Will flesh out this review to give this outstanding debut novel its due.
Jan 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
A detailed description of the life of a loser.
Elyse  Walters
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Library Overdrive Audiobook...narrated by
Jeremy Bobb

....Crack smoke...
....Puke smelled like big BigMac sauce.
....”Gary was a real mother sh*t f#cker... but I already knew that”....
....Brillo Pads & Heroine
.... shooting up at the old abandoned house....
....Emily was totally f#cked: True Love
.... Romance: “ We’ll buy some pills, then shoot them up”
.....”Don’t you understand that we are completely f#cked?”

.... Yes, life was good when you’re young and on heroin... slowly killing yourse
Jennifer Gaarder
Read my reviews at

By Nico Walker
Knopf, August 14, 2018

336 Pages, Hardcover Edition


In 2003, a college freshman in Cleveland, Ohio, the narrator is lost and lonely until he meets the dazzling Emily. When he almost loses her to a new school in Elba, New York, he joins the army.

Becoming a combat medic, he goes to Iraq only to partake in huffing computer duster, abusing painkillers, and watching porn to pass the time. Many of his friends die. Furthermore, whe
I thought I would love this book. And at the beginning I did... there are some laugh out loud funny and creatively profane bits here and there. The voice is compelling and there are even some moments of brilliance in the writing. But as it went along this novel started to feel like a hustle... it was frequently small-minded and mean-spirited. With every female character introduced in the book, the author's misogynistic attitudes become more apparent. After a certain point I just wanted it to be ...more
Janelle Janson
Many thanks to Knopf for providing my free copy of CHERRY by Nico Walker - all opinions are my own.

This is an intense, bleak, insightful, and poignant debut novel about war, crime, love, and addiction. The language is explicit and unsettling. This story is fictionalized but is based on the author’s real life and was written on a typewriter during his time in prison. He is a decorated war veteran who served as a line medic in Iraq, he’s a heroin addict, a bank robber, and an incredibly talented w
Listened to it on audio and it flowed into my ears and landed on my brain like fucking melted butter. It's tightly written, and perfectly narrated - Autobiographical fiction at its tautest.

Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As previously stated in updates, to this reader, Nico Walker's Cherry reads as if Charles Bukowski wrote a memoir about a tour in Iraq while in the army and his return to the US while becoming a full-fledged dope fiend.

The novel describes the narrator's journey from that of growing up in a privileged life while bouncing around trying to find his place in the world and how he and his girlfriend eventually become "dope fiends."

The writing is gritty, biting, humorous and told in a "matter of fact
Timothy Urges
But that’s a good way to go to heaven.

Cherry follows an addict with a gun chasing his fix.

Opioid addiction touched by the Iraq War.

Not the best writing but worth the read for the point of view.
David Yoon
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author Nico Walker grew up the son of affluent parents in Ohio, spent 11 months in Iraq pulling in more than 200 missions as a woefully under-qualified Army medic and returned to develop a heroin addiction which led to a string of 11 bank robberies in a 4 month span, stealing about $40K to feed the habit before inevitably being caught. He's currently spending 11 years at the Federal Correctional institution in Ashland Kentucky where he wrote Cherry. And despite the author's note proceeding the w ...more
“There was nothing better than to be young and on heroine. . . . You could kill yourself real slow and feel like million dollars.”

Cherry by Nico Walker takes you right into the heart of America’s heroine epidemic. Best described as an auto-fiction, this novel is part memoir, part fiction. Although I am not sure where the line is between fact and fiction is I did learn that Nico Walker struggled with opioid addiction, served in the Army as a Medic and is presently incarcerated. This book has got
Ethan M
Oct 20, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Y’all serious with this?
Katie Long
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can’t believe I’m giving this so many stars! This book really challenged me. It is autobiographical fiction and the main character is awful. He is misogynistic, racist, selfish, and has no appreciation for the privilege that he was born into and foolishly squanders, but he does have a story to tell. An important and devastating one, about the realities of war, especially as we know it now, and its aftermath. I fully understand why many readers would bail, or skip it altogether, his language an ...more
Gregory Day
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As vicious and funny as they come. This is straight gonzo and tender and maybe the deepest examination of the human spirit’s wanting to be good that I’ve ever read.
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve never been in a fight. A real one, that is; I’d hardly count the faux-wrestling matches my younger brother and I would take part in as adolescents. And yet upon finishing Cherry, the buzzy, brutal and bleak debut by Nico Walker, I feel as though I went 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali in his prime.

To say Cherry is a gut-punch would diminish its impact; this novel is an out and out war, and not just because a significant part of it takes place during battle. If anything, Walker’s depiction of wa
Not quite sure what to say about this book, because not quite sure what to think about it.

This book was written after a Buzzfeed article detailing Nico Walker's life (soldier in Iraq, has PTSD, comes home gets hooked on heroin, starts robbing banks to fuel heroin habit, goes to jail) piqued the interest of a book editor, who began pursuing him to write a book. So this is basically a fictionalized version of Walker's own story. Which is one of the problems I have with it. Where is the line betwee
miss.mesmerized mesmerized
2003, Cleveland. He has just arrived at uni when he meets Emily and falls for her immediately. They love each other passionately, just as they love Ecstasy. When Emily moves back home to Elba and splits up, he loses control and is expelled from college soon after. The army promises an interesting future – or better: a future at all. As a medic he is briefly trained before they send him to Iraq. A year in the Middle East, a year in the war. What he sees is unimaginable and to avoid the pictures i ...more
Cherry is the fictionalized memoir of a college student turned soldier turned heroin addict turned bank robber turned inmate. The novel that author Nico Walker famously wrote from his prison cell is worlds away from my upper middle-class soccer mom life, but I feel closer to his broken heart and hopeful soul than I do to the thousand nearest minivan-driving suburbanites in my slice of Los Angeles.

Walker’s voice is everything noir should be. World weary. Devoid of expectations, yet ever optimisti
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, war
Nico Walker's Cherry is a book whose gestation is more interesting than the book itself. Imagine Trainspotting without a sense of humor. Or a boring Requiem for a Dream. I didn't hate the book (2 stars, yo), and it certainly has a blunt, fist-to-the-gut appeal. But it's also sort of the literary equivalent of a model train set, where the first couple loops around the track are kinda cool – the train goes through a tunnel! the buildings light up! look at all the little people! – but that's all it ...more
Ron S
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine Scott McClanahan, but swap out alcohol, sexual abuse and Crapalachia for opiates, bank robbery, Ohio and Iraq. Feels honest, immediate and real. The author is serving time so if the lack of a (spoiler alert) redemptive come-to-jesus ending annoys you, don't worry. He bought the ticket. He's taking the ride.
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The Wild Detectiv...: Nico Walker's Cherry 1 18 Dec 04, 2018 07:55AM  

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Nico Walker is originally from Cleveland. He served as a medic on more than 250 missions in Iraq. Currently he has two more years of an eleven-year sentence for bank robbery. Cherry is his debut novel.

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“It's not that I'm dumb to the beauty of things. I take all the beautiful things to heart, and they fuck my heart till I about die from it.” 12 likes
“THERE ARE countless women in the world. At times it’s more than I can bear to think about: that there should be so many and they all start out the way they do, with all the brightness and their own invisible worlds and secret languages and what else they have, and that we ruin everything. And I have been mangled by vicious killers in my time, but I haven’t ever doubted it was only that someone had killed them first. Someone like me.” 5 likes
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