Tuesday, August 15, 2006

No Holes Here
"I Am The Cheese"
by Robert Cormier

I Am the Cheese is one of my longtime favorite books. I just recently bought it and thought, hmm, I think I'd like to share this with Aubrey, the soon-to-be misses.

Whenever I share something I like I get nervous because when I like a book or a film or a piece of art, it becomes a piece of me because I make it my own. Every book I read that I love both takes and leaves profound moments from and in my life. So, as usual, I was nervous, hoping Aubrey would like it.

She did. And, even though it's been a few years since I read this book, it was a hell of a ride, no pun intended. The books starts off with a bang:

I am pedaling furiously and I am on Route 31 in Monument, Massachusetts, on my way to Rutterburg, Vermont, and I'm pedaling furiously because this is an old-fashioned bike...
I've always loved the beginning of this book. The picture of this kid pedaling furiously, bike tires rotating endlessly, off to somewhere. But we're not concerned with that, we're just concerned about the breathing, the hard bike ride ahead, because this kid is going all the way to Vermont from Massachussets, on bike.

It's the all-consuming sense of freedom, of being on a bike on the open road, that attracts me. There's all this danger in the world, you're so vulnerable on a bike, and yet you go, and you feel the wind on your face, and it's all self-sufficient. You are your own momentum. Ahhh.

Without giving too much away, I will say that, for a young adult audience, this book takes some very heavy-handed themes on. Most interesting are the ideas of protection and secrecy, predeterminism vs. free will (or the sense of freedom, being able to make your own choice, vs. the idea that everything you do is being manipulated by someone else, conciously or unconciously), and the awkwardness of young love.

The book flips back and forth between Adam Farmer riding his bike to Rutterburg with a package for his father and an interview, presumably in a psychiatric hospital, between unnamed "T" and unnamed "A". As Adam Farmer makes his way across the state and encounters his own obstacles, more is revealed about the patient "A", and the paths of these parallel stories begin to converge, leading to an inevitable intersection and, ultimately, the revelation of an unthinkable secret.

This book was a pleasure to read. I can't give it any more of a recommendation than to say that Aubrey was hanging on its every word. I caught her reading ahead once (I was reading it aloud to her, which I highly recommend doing, by the way) and pulled the book away so she couldn't see. The suspense had her wide-eyed and breathless. It was great to watch.

I Am the Cheese is a fabulous book. Whoever you are, whereever you may be going, pick it up, I dare you. You'll pee your pants.

The cover is awesome. It's simple, and, like every nail-biting chapter in the book, tells the whole story without giving anything away.

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