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Nico Walker Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Cherry (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Nico Walker
Nico Walker is a fiction writer best known for his debut novel, Cherry. The author gives a crisp account of his life, starting from life in college to prison life using a different name. Currently, in prison, the author has gained national acclaim and today falls in the list of best-selling authors. Walker is originally from Cleveland and a veteran who served as a medic in over 250 Iraq missions.

Cherry
Cherry is an autobiography-like story featuring a young man who meets a special girl in his freshman year. These two have a passion for Ecstasy and Edward Albee, and thanks to these shared interests, they fall in love fast and hard. Emily, the special girl, is forced to move from New York to her home in Elba. The young man drops out of school to join the army. In their attempt to keep the relationship alive, the two lovebirds get married before the young man goes to Iraq.

The young man works as a medic in the army, and nothing prepares him for the horrible reality in Iraq. Here, he meets soldiers who smoke, watches porn, and take painkillers to numb the ever-present pain. Many fellow soldiers also die in his arms, while others are blown up to millions of pieces.

The now army medic and Emily do everything possible to make their marriage work. However, when he returns home from Iraq, the shadows of the past follow him there. The young man is suffering from a severe case of PTSD. The drugs he is used to change, and the opioid crisis is not making things any better. In a short while, the once army medic becomes hooked on heroin, and the love of his life follows suit. While the two try to live a normal life, their dwindling finances make this an impossible task. The young man turns to robbing banks if only to get enough money to buy the next fix.

Written from the prison Cells, Cherry is a raw yet hilarious account of the Iraq war and the dangers of heroin addiction. The author, an army veteran, tells his own story even though the names are changed, and he writes as an observer. With barely any training, the narrator treats Iraqis as a trained medic while, in most times, all he did was give them ibuprofen and refer them to the hospital. In some instances, he knows that he is leaving some of his patients to die, but there is little he can do about the situation.

Cherry means a green soldier who has just gotten to the combat zone according to army slang. The word also refers to the narrator, who is young and out of depth in all life situations. The narrator starts as a loser in college who sells drugs just for the kick of it. He enjoys getting wasted daily while engaging in recreational fistfights with his equally wasted friends. It is no surprise that the young man cannot maintain a relationship, and his girlfriends keep on cheating on him. As fate would have it, the young man finds a woman who falls in love with him despite his weaknesses. The two get married and thus start a twisted tale of destruction and a hopeless attempt to do what is right.

The biggest seller for this book is its naked sincerity. Just like the protagonist, Walker is a veteran who participated in the Iraq war. A heroin habit after his return sees him committing severe crimes such as bank robberies. It is these crimes that send him to jail where he is serving an 11-year sentence for bank robbery. This book was typed from the confines of a federal correction institution, and it tells the story of a man who has fought many demons but still maintains his sense of dry humor.

If you are looking to read a story of someone who has made a ton of bad choices and continues to struggle due to them, this book is ideal. There are some points to take home, such as the dangers of living with PTSD, distressing effects of drugs, and the hopelessness of participants of the Iraq war. It is devastating to see the narrator repeat the same mistakes that put him in trouble. However, this story makes it easy for everyone to understand the struggle of knowing right and wrong while being unable to change for the better.

Just like this novel, the story of how this author got inspired to write is quite remarkable. Walker served as a war medic between 2005 and 2006. Here, he gets commended for his work as he sees many of his colleagues and friends get blown into pieces. After his return to civilian life, adjusting became a problem, not to mention the fact that his depression remained untreated. This led to a heroin addiction that the author funded by robbing banks. In just four months, Walker had robbed four banks before the long arm of the law caught up with him.

In 2013, when Walker was now behind bars, BuzzFeed ran a harrowing story of the hero who had later turned to a thief. The story struck many people, among them Matthew Johnson, a Tyrant Books publisher. Fascinated by Walker’s story and the history of war veterans who result in bank robberies, Johnson encouraged Walker to tell his story. Walker’s manuscript ends up in Alfred A. Knopf, one of the most prestigious publishing houses in the nation. The rest, as they say, is history.

Cherry is like a war series, only that its brutal honesty makes it sound like stories that war veterans share in bars and not in books. There is no significance to the plot, and the author is not trying to impart some knowledge to anyone. That said, this deviation from the norm is what has earned this book its fame. It helps that the book is casually hilarious and, at the same time, devastating. Expect to laugh out loud, get mad at the narrator, and sympathize with him in the end. It’s an engaging read that will be worth your time.

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