I Am the Cheese, by Robert Cormier

Nine stars

After recently discovering the work of Robert Cormier, I decided to come back for more. This is another wonderfully-crafted novel in which Cormier shows his versatility and ability to entertain readers of all ages. Adam Farmer is on a mission to see his father, a trip 70 miles across three states. He is ready to make the trek entirely by bicycle, leering of hitchhiking along highways he does not know. As he ventures out, Adam thinks back to some of his fondest memories as a child, as well as the strong friendship he’s made with Amy Hertz. Interspersed with this is a narrative set in a collection of therapeutic sessions, with Adam as the patient. These conversations begin to peel back the proverbial onion in Adam’s life, as the reader learns a little about the lives of the elder Farmers. A third-person narrative offers up a final perspective, filling in many of the gaps and telling an interesting narrative that ties into events to which the other two storylines refer. As Adam’s bicycle trip proceeds, he begins to realise that much of what he thought was true might be a construct of his own making. Why this journey to see his father and how do these therapeutic interviews come together? The curious reader will discover all this, as well as the truth behind Adam Farmer. Recommended to those who love a slow-revealing mystery as well as the reader who enjoys a ‘coming of age’ tale!

It would seem that Robert Cormier enjoys using food in the titles of his books, at least the few I have read. Cormier weaves quite the story and keeps the reader intrigued throughout, using the multiple narratives to his advantage as they culminate in an explosive finale. Adam Farmer shares much about himself in this story, serving as quite the protagonist. His cycling journey shows the reader the determination to finish what he starts, even in the face of adversity. Adam surely has some buried struggles, as is seen in the therapeutic interviews, where his grasp of reality seems to ebb and flow, revealing much to the attentive reader. The personal struggles in which Adam finds himself help to reveal a vulnerable and confused boy, whose past is a mix of truths and suppositions. Other characters prove helpful to shape the larger narrative, complementing Adam Farmer effectively. These supporting characters prove essential in Cormier’s tangled web, which is spun in a subtle manner throughout. With a great narrative that clips along, the reader is treated to a wonderful collection of plots with a powerful final revelation. Cormier uses his wonderful writing abilities to keep the reader wanting more, particularly after the twist in the closing paragraphs. I am just sorry that I did not become interested in Cormier sooner, so as to discuss his work with my father, whose English classes were filled with such young adult classics!

Kudos, Mr. Cormier, for another wonderful piece that has me turning to read more of your work.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons