Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier

In this haunting book, Adam Farmer is riding his bike to see his father. He has some things to give him. He is willing to deal with biting dogs, bullies, and sheer exhaustion to make this trip, which clearly has some deep and terrible meaning to him.

As the story unfolds -- mostly through a series of cryptic flashback interviews -- we learn that Adam Farmer is not his real name, and that there is something mysterious about his family and the reason why they moved to this town. His best friend, Amy Hertz, had begun to ask questions that hint that there's something unusual going on. And why does his mother take calls from someone once a month, like clockwork? And who is that man who comes calling and makes his father nervous?

Though dated by its Nixon-era paranoia, this is still a fantastic read. The end is a terrifying shock. This is by far one of the saddest books I've ever read.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, one of my favorite YA books, definitely took a thing or two from this classic.

Bibliotherapeutic value: A reminder that "reality" is not always what you think. A piercing, sympathetic look into an unusual mind.

Cormier, Robert. I Am the Cheese. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2006. (First printing: 1975.)

ISBN: 0375840497. $8.99.

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