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Cherry

A Novel
Narrated by: Jeremy Bobb
Length: 8 hrs and 5 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4 out of 5 stars (633 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

National Best Seller

A Pen/Hemingway Award Finalist

A New York Times Notable Book

One of the Best Books of the Year:
The New Yorker
Entertainment Weekly
Vulture
Vogue
Lit Hub

Jesus' Son meets Reservoir Dogs in a breakneck-paced debut novel about love, war, bank robberies, and heroin.   

"Nico Walker's Cherry might be the first great novel of the opioid epidemic." (Vulture)

"A miracle of literary serendipity.... [Walker's] language, relentlessly profane but never angry, simmers at the level of morose disappointment, something like Holden Caulfield Goes to War." (The Washington Post)

It's 2003, and as a college freshman in Cleveland, our narrator is adrift until he meets Emily. The two of them experience an instant, life-changing connection. But when he almost loses her, he chooses to make an indelible statement: He joins the army. The outcome will not be good for either of them. 

As a medic in Iraq, he is unprepared for the realities that await him. He and his fellow soldiers huff computer duster, abuse painkillers, and watch porn. Many of them die. When he comes home, his PTSD is profound. As the opioid crisis sweeps through the Midwest, it drags both him and Emily along with it. As their addictions worsen, and with their money drying up, he stumbles onto what seems like the only possible solution - robbing banks.

Written by a singularly talented, wildly imaginative debut novelist, Cherry is a bracingly funny and unexpectedly tender work of fiction straight from the dark heart of America.  

©2018 Nico Walker (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

Cherry is a miracle of literary serendipity, a triumph.... [Walker’s] language, relentlessly profane but never angry, simmers at the level of morose disappointment, something like Holden Caulfield Goes to War.... His prose echoes Ernest Hemingway’s cadences to powerful effect.... Cherry is written without an ounce of self-pity by an author allergic to the meretricious poetry of despair. In these propulsive pages, Walker draws us right into the mind of an ordinary young man beset by his own and his country’s demons. In the end, his only weapon against disintegration is his own devastating candor.” (The Washington Post)

“The rare work of literary fiction by a young American that carries with it nothing of the scent of an MFA program.... The voice Walker has fashioned has a lot in common with the one Denis Johnson conjured for his masterpiece Jesus’ Son..... A novel of searing beauty.” (Vulture)

“[An] unforgettable mix of doomed and dazzling.... There’s a vivid, repulsive truth in the way Walker renders his subjects - a sort of social truth, stripped of morality, which is rare and riveting when it comes to the subjects of opioid addiction, intimate everyday cruelty, and endless, meaningless war.” (The New Yorker)

“A singular portrait of the opioid epidemic.... [Walker] writes dialogue so musical and realistic you’ll hear it in the air around you.” (The New York Times Book Review)  

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

being an ex-junky is much cooler than being a junky

this was brilliant. The sensitivity and ability to explain and make entertaining such a tired genre of writing was phenomenal (which i spelled wrong so factor that into my credentials as a critic) i dont know what it’s like to be a soldier or a medic but i sure know what it’s like to be a repentant semi-comedic criminal with a bad case of the opiates and this dude Nico got it all right. If there were a secret handshake he would know it and in a totally selfish way it felt comforting to hear him suffer the all too true and universal junk problems only people who think too much suffer. The clever narration and spot on story telling made this a great listen! I give it the full five 💉💉💉💉💉

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Blown away...

I was deeply touched by this book. The material is dark and tragic but beautifully written in a voice that touches your soul. It was heartbreaking.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Crazy good ride!

It's hard to believe that this is a debut novel.you really feel like you know these characters.I'm in recovery and he got it exactly right.The chase for drugs and the anticipation and finally the relief of the score.Great debut!

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • RGB
  • SC, USA
  • 08-31-18

Unsentimental account of a life gone to drugs

Nicole Walker makes it clear that this story is fiction but it is a realistic account of a life quite similar to his own.
Brutally honest but never playing the poor me card, he describes in clear, sometimes harsh and frequently profane language a life of a decent kid who joins the Army, goes to the Middle East and becomes a drug addict, bank robber and then gets caught.
I have read a number of accounts of soldiers from the endless Iraq and Afghanistan battlefields and I understand their frustrations and PTSD but the drug use is hard to blame solely on war experience.
I hope he gets out of prison and pursues more writing. He is a unique and honest voice
The performance of this book was outstanding

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Solid

The story kept me interested all the way through. Jeremy Bobb’s narration is reminiscent of Ray Liota’s voiceover in Goodfellas, but different enough so that it’s not obnoxious.
I felt like it meandered at the end, and it lacks proper closure, but all in all I would recommend this book to a friend, and it’s worthy of a reread in a few years.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • IAN
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • 08-18-18

Depths

I heard of this book in an interview with the author. He was reading excerpts. The words flowing from a troubled mind over the phone line from prison.
I am glad audible had the book already. A stream of youth driven by addiction and aimless pursuit. No parallels for me but a clarifying look into another world I need not inhabit. But a better understanding. Empathy.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Cherry - Amazing First Effort

I first learned about Nico Walker in the NYT Review of Books. This young man's personal story was so compelling that I jotted the title of his book down on my reading list right away. I'm glad I saw that audible had already recorded it before I purchased it in hard copy because Jeremy Bobb absolutely blew my mind reading this book to me. Between Nico's brutal rendering of what he assures us are events that never happened and people who never existed and Jeremy's tough but tender portrayal of the narrator and main protagonist in this story of a lost soul gone to war and then to hell and back was moving and heartbreaking and funny all at the same time. This book will make you think and feel differently about the costs that our young men and women are paying for the rest of us to turn our faces away from the endless conflicts we send them into.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Stacy
  • Santa Rosa, CA, United States
  • 08-26-18

Gritty as it gets

This book is not for the faint of heart, as it tells the semi-autobiographical story of a war veteran and how PTSD drove him to opioid addiction. It’s most redeeming feature is the non-pitying tone, as well as the superb performance of the narrator.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Hilarious at times, but........

While I admit, I quite literally laughed out loud in a few spots in the book, it just didn’t have much to it. The story is dreadfully slow at points and it lacks much of a plot at all....or character development for that matter. In the end, the crude humor kept me from completely abandoning the book, but it fell way short of my expectations.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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On a Highway to ...


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

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful