i am the cheese

I have a confession to make.  Though I claim to be an avid reader of young adult literature, I had never read anything by the classic YA writer Robert Cormier until last week.  I’m not really sure why — perhaps because I’ve focused on more recent books, or because my YA reading tends to skew toward works with female protagonists.  But because he is such a highly respected name in the field, I thought it was time to give Cormier a try.

Cormier is known for dark and suspenseful novels, and  I Am the Cheese certainly fits that bill.  The book opens with the protagonist, Adam, on a bike, on what seems to be an impulsively begun jouney to visit his father several towns away.  But the second chapter is a transcript of what appears to be an interview.  The novel moves between these two situations, and as they begin to interweave, suspense builds. 

I Am the Cheese is a quick, gripping read; the physical journey on the bicycle is paralleled by an emotional discovery, and both take a number of twists and turns.  My only complaint is that the reveal, when it comes, is almost too sudden to process.  Even after rereading the final chapters, I’m not fully sure my interpretation of the events is the one intended by Cormier. 

I certainly do understand, though, how this book would appeal to an adolescent reader.  Young adult literature, in my opinion, should be both accessible and challenging.  The pace, the characters, the suspense — Cormier combines these factors to create a novel that is exactly that.


~ by Molly on February 10, 2009.

3 Responses to “i am the cheese”

  1. I had to read this for an adolescent lit course I took in graduate school, and I really liked it for precisely the reason you touch on in your last paragraph. It is a challenging yet still enjoyable YA book. I love YA lit, but there are times that I wish there were more challenging books with in the genre. I’m curious- does your interest in YA lit stem from teaching?

    I’m working on building up a site where I am reviewing only YA books, and I think am going to start adding more resources for teachers on it as well. I first started with the intention of having a record for myself of all the YA lit I’ve read, but then realized that perhaps it could be used as a resource by others. I’d love to hear your suggestions if you ever stop by.

    I look forward to reading more of your entries.


    • I don’t think my interest in YA lit stems from teaching as much as my interest in teaching stems from YA lit. I took a YA lit course in college and fell in love, which was when I first started thinking about teaching high school English. I’m not currently teaching high school, but every time I read a YA book, I can’t help but think about how it could be used in a classroom.

      I’ll definitely be sure to stop by your site. I’m all for discovering and discussing YA books whenever possible!

  2. I think I forgot to leave my url http://yalitgoodbadugly.wordpress.com

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