Review of Cherry by Nico Walker
When you were in school, your teachers probably gave you a list of books that you had to read – the classic novels. You might have actually read a few or just got the Cliffs-notes.
But most people that I know rarely take the time to read novels these days. Our attention spans are shorter, and our lives are faster. So, if you only have time to read one great story this year, then let me tell you a little bit about “Cherry” from debut author Nico Walker.
It’s about an Iraq war veteran’s struggles with PTSD, heroin, love and just trying to be a good man. Oh, and there’s bank robberies, too. Now, I’m not your high school English teacher, but I will tell you that this book is a must-read novel.
“Nico Walker’s Cherry might be the first great novel of the opioid epidemic.” —Vulture
Cherry is told from the first-person perspective and you never find out the main character’s name. His journey goes from being a college freshman who falls in love with a girl named Emily, his time in the Army to becoming a drug-addicted bank robber whose life is sent careening into an uncontrollable tailspin.
I was personally blown away by this book and I’m going to give you a quick review. I’ll tell you some things I liked and some things I didn’t like. Let me first say that I write fiction books myself and I rarely read other peoples’ work because I’m extremely critical.
I’m also just like you – hard-pressed for leisure time and hooked on Netflix. But I’m not affiliated with this author in any capacity and I’m not writing this review as an affiliate marketer. Having said that – let’s dive right into the review of “Cherry”.
What I Liked
From the start, I liked the style and delivery of the narrative. It’s told from the first-person perspective, almost like an autobiography of sorts. It didn’t feel like the author was trying to sound like such a great literary genius.
This brought the story and the main character right down to the reader’s level.
Here are some other positive things I liked about the book. I’ll use bullet points so you can cruise through the review much easier.
- This book isn’t afraid of profanity and there are tons of expletives. That’s always fun to read.
- The main character isn’t a hero. He’s a flawed man who makes tons of mistakes.
- I was reminded of Hunter S. Thompson and Ernest Hemingway while reading this fast-paced novel.
- This book tells the truth about the nation’s opioid crisis and all its brutal, ugly facets.
- I found the chapters about the narrator’s time in combat during the Iraq War to be revelatory and captivating.
What I Didn’t Like
As I mentioned earlier, I am a published novelist and that makes me extremely critical of the books that I read. However, there wasn’t much I didn’t like about this novel. Walker wrote this book on a typewriter and as a debut author,
I’m sure he had a fantastic editor and book designer to pull it all together. There were just a few drawbacks to the story itself though.
- The narrator was filled with self-loathing by the story’s midpoint and it tended to get a bit sad.
- The writing style lacked lyricism and rarely rose to a level of literary greatness.
- I think the love story could have been better developed.
The book’s title “Cherry” refers to getting one’s cherry popped in war. The book’s author certainly speaks from experience. Nico Walker was a combat medic who survived more than 250 missions in Iraq.
He’s actually still doing prison time for bank robbery. Although this is a novel and not an autobiography, Cherry feels so visceral and real.
Critics will call this a book about PTSD and the decline of a war veteran, but really, I find that this book is about drug addiction. The narrator had negative experiences with drugs throughout this book, even though he became addicted to heroin toward the later stages of the narrative.
I like the fact that the reader is left to decide what factors contributed the most to the narrator’s decline into debauchery.
So, is this book worth your time, worth reading, worth buying?
All I can say is that I really enjoyed the read and found the experience to be very rewarding.
You can find a brand-new paperback for around $12.00, but it’s also available in hardback and ebook formats. Although it’s about 300 pages, I was able to read it quite quickly.
That’s due largely to the rapid-fire writing style of Nico Walker. So, Cherry is affordable and won’t tax your time, but the effects of the story will linger with you for quite a while.
Have you read this book? If so, what were your impressions?