Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

I Am the Cheese

I Am the Cheese

4.0 143
by Robert Cormier

See All Formats & Editions

Before there was Lois Lowry’s The Giver or M. T. Anderson’s Feed, there was Robert Cormier’s I Am the Cheese, a subversive classic that broke new ground for YA literature.
A boy’s search for his father becomes a desperate journey to unlock a secret past. But the past must not be remembered if the boy


Before there was Lois Lowry’s The Giver or M. T. Anderson’s Feed, there was Robert Cormier’s I Am the Cheese, a subversive classic that broke new ground for YA literature.
A boy’s search for his father becomes a desperate journey to unlock a secret past. But the past must not be remembered if the boy is to survive. As he searches for the truth that hovers at the edge of his mind, the boy—and readers—arrive at a shattering conclusion.
“An absorbing, even brilliant job. The book is assembled in mosaic fashion: a tiny chip here, a chip there. . . . Everything is related to something else; everything builds and builds to a fearsome climax. . . . [Cormier] has the knack of making horror out of the ordinary, as the masters of suspense know how to do.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A horrifying tale of government corruption, espionage, and counter espionage told by an innocent young victim. . . . The buildup of suspense is terrific.”—School Library Journal, starred review
An ALA Notable Children’s Book
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
A Horn Book Fanfare
A Library of Congress Children’s Book of the Year
A Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award Nominee

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A horrifying tale . . . the buildup of suspense is terrific." - School Library Journal, Starred"AN ABSORBING, EVEN brilliant job. The book is assembled in mosaic fashion: a tiny chip here, a chip there. . . . Everything is related to something else; everything builds and builds to a fearsome climax. . . . Cormier . . . has the knack of making horror out of the ordinary, as the masters of suspense know how to do." - The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
810L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

I am riding the bicycle 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, no speeds, no fenders, only the warped tires and the brakes that don't always work and the handlebars with cracked rubber grips to steer with. A plain bike - the kind my father rode as a kid years ago. It's cold as I pedal along, the wind like a snake slithering up my sleeves and into my jacket and my pants legs, too. But I keep pedaling, I keep pedaling.

This is Mechanic Street in Monument, and to my right, high above on a hill, there's a hospital and I glance up at the place and I think of my father in Rutterburg, Vermont, and my pedaling accelerates. It's ten o'clock in the morning and it is October, not a Thomas Wolfe October of burning leaves and ghost winds but a rotten October, dreary, cold, damp with little sun and no warmth at all. Nobody reads Thomas Wolfe anymore, I guess, except my father and me. I did a book report on The Web and the Rock and Mr. Parker in English II regarded me with suspicion and gave me a B- instead of the usual A. But Mr. Parker and the school and all of that are behind me now and I pedal. Your legs do all the work on an old bike like this, but my legs feel good, strong, with staying power. I pass by a house with a white picket fence and I spot a little kid who's standing on the sidewalk and he watches me go by and I wave to him because he looks lonesome and he waves back.

I look over my shoulder but there's no one following.

At home, I didn't wave goodbye to anybody. I just left. Without fanfare. I didn't go to school. I didn't call anyone. I thought of Amy but I didn't call her. I woke up this morning and saw an edge of frost framing the window and I thought of my father and I thought of the cabinet downstairs in the den and I lay there, barely breathing, and then I got up and knew where I was going.  But I stalled, I delayed. I didn't leave for two hours because I am a coward, really. I am afraid of a thousand things, a million. Like, is it possible to be claustrophobic and yet fear open spaces, too? I mean, elevators panic me. I stand in the upright coffin and my body oozes sweat and my heart pounds and this terrible feeling of suffocation threatens me and I wonder if the doors will ever open. But the next day, I was playing center field - I hate baseball but the school insists on one participating sport - anyway, I stood there with all that immensity of space around me in center field and I felt as though I'd be swept off the face of the planet, into space. I had to fight a desire to fling myself on the ground cling to the earth. And then there are dogs. I sat there in the house, thinking of all the dogs that would attack me on the way to Rutterburg, Vermont, and I told myself, This is crazy, I'm not going. But at the same time, I knew I would go. I knew I would go the way you know a stone will drop to the ground if you release it from your hand.

I went to the cabinet in the den and took out the gift for my father. I wrapped it in aluminum foil and then wrapped it again with newspaper, Scotch-taping it all securely. Then I went down to the cellar and got the pants and shoes and jacket, but it took me at least a half hour to find the cap. It would be cold on the road to Vermont and this cap is perfect, woolen, the kind that I could pull over my ears if the cold became a problem.

Then I raided my savings. I have plenty of money. I have thirty-five dollars and ninety-three cents. I have enough money to travel first class to Vermont, in the Greyhound bus that goes all the way to Montreal, but I know that I am going by bike to Rutterburg, Vermont. I don't want to be confined to a bus. I want the open road before me, I want to sail on the wind. The bike was waiting in the garage and that's how I wanted to go. By bike, by my own strength and power. For my father.

I looked at myself in the mirror before I left, the full-length mirror on the side of the closet door in my parents' bedroom upstairs. I inspected myself in the mirror, the crazy hat and the old jacket, and I knew that I looked ridiculous. But what the hell, as Amy says, philosophically.

I thought longingly of Amy. But she was at school and almost impossible to call. I could have faked it. I could have called the school and pretended that I was her father and asked to speak to her, saying that there was an emergency at home. Her father is editor of the Monument Times and always speaks with emergency in his voice, his sentences like headlines.

But I have to be in the mood to pull off a stunt like that - in fact, those kinds of stunts are Amy's specialty. And besides, my mind was on the road to Vermont. I love Amy Hertz. It's ridiculous that her name is Hertz - she's probably heard a thousand car-rental jokes and I have vowed never to make one. Anyway, I decided not to call her. Not until I'm away. I will call her on the way to Rutterburg, Vermont. And I will soothe myself by thinking of her and her Numbers and all the times she let me kiss her and hold her. But I didn't want to think about all that as I prepared for my journey.

I went to the kitchen and took out the bottle of pills from the cabinet and decided not to take one. I wanted to do this raw, without crutches, without aid, alone. I opened the bottle of pills and turned it over and let the pills fall out - they are capsules, actually, green and black - and I watched them disappear into the mouth of the garbage disposal. I felt strong and resolute.

I got the bike out of the garage and walked down the driveway, guiding the bike before I swung into the seat. I had my father's package in the basket above the front wheel. I was traveling light, with no provisions or extra clothing.

Finally, I leaped onto the bike, feeling reckless and courageous. At that moment, the sun came out, dazzling and brilliant: an omen of good fortune. I swung out into the street and a car howled its horn at me for straying too far into the roadway - and I wavered on the bicycle, the front wheel wobbling. I thought, This is ridiculous, this trip to Rutterburg. I almost turned back. But I didn't. I thought of my father and I started pedaling away, and I gained momentum and knew I would go, nothing would stop me, nothing.

And now I am leaving Monument and crossing the town line into Aswell. A sign by the side of the road says that the Aswell Rotary Club meets every Monday at noon. I have only gone four or five miles and my legs don't feel strong anymore. My legs are weary and my back sings with pain because I am out of condition. Frankly, I have never been in condition, which is a source of delight to Amy Hertz, who dislikes all kinds of physical exercise.

I keep pedaling despite the weariness and the pain. I am determined to go to Rutterburg. I suck in the cold air and it caresses my lungs. My forehead is damp with sweat and I pull the cap down over my ears. I have all those miles to go.

"Take it easy," I tell myself. "Take it easy. One mile at a time."

And suddenly there's a long hill slanting down before me and the bike picks up speed and my legs are whirling madly, without effort, the bike carried by the momentum, and I let myself join the wind, soaring over the road as I coast beautifully down into Aswell.

Meet the Author

Robert Cormier (1925-2000) changed the face of young adult literature over the course of his illustrious career. His many books include The Chocolate War, I Am the Cheese, Fade, Tenderness, After the First Death, Heroes, Frenchtown Summer, and The Rag and Bone Shop. In 1991 he received the Margaret A. Edwards Award, honoring his lifetime contribution to writing for teens.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
January 17, 1925
Date of Death:
November 2, 2000
Place of Birth:
Leominster, Massachusetts
Place of Death:
Leominster, Massachusetts
Fitchburg State College

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

I Am the Cheese 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 143 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the only assigned book that i read thoroughly cover to cover my freshman year and i'm so glad i did. i loved it so much. its a beautifully written mental journal of the protaganist struggling to find himself. its the same journey we all take at that age but he has a wrench thrown in. it's written in a mix of prose and transcripts. the prose cuts between first and third person. it seemed confusing to me but when i started it was completely clear. this is a beautiful story. i was sobbing at the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book ¿I Am the Cheese¿ I a great book. Is if full of suspenseful events that will lead you to keep on reading. The book has two plots to it. Some of it is Adam Farmers Journey to ¿find his father¿. And some of it is the interrogation between the ¿psychologist¿ and Adam Farmer when he is at the insane asylum. Throughout the book you know that there is something wrong with Adam but it is hard to tell just what it is. As the story goes on you start to see more of a connection between the two plots in the story. As more time passes more of Adams past is revealed and even more of a connection is seen. At the end you learn that Adam suffers from amnesia and were never on a trip to find his father. You also learn that his family was in hiding and has a secret past. ¿The cheese stands alone¿ Adam says he is the cheese, and he will always be. He thinks he will always stand alone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My 13-year-old daughter was assigned this book in an 8th-grade English class, but I think both its format and subject matter are perhaps too confusing for such unsophisticated readers. I would recommend that it be saved until late in high school, even though the protagonist is a young teenager. My daughter got so confused by this novel, that she got way behind in her assigned reading. And so she asked me to read it aloud to her. This proved quite helpful for her, since we were able to stop and puzzle over certain incidents together, rather than her trying to figure things our for herself. (She couldn't, most of the time, and so she often gave up.) This novel, though brilliantly written and quite compelling to read as an adult, is extremely dark and complex. I really feel that we are asking too much of our middle-schoolers, developmentally, to grasp this at home on their own. If teachers insist on assigning it in middle school, I would suggest that they read it IN CLASS together with their students. There are too many frightening aspects of mind-control and inuendo that could send an adolescent with the least bit of self-esteem problems into a deep, downward spiral of depressing thoughts. A teacher explaining and watching for untoward reactions from his/her students could help to move these thoughts into a more positive realm. We should try at this age to re-affirm our children's values of self-worth instead of scaring them to death! If teachers would take the time to read this in class with their students, I believe I AM THE CHEESE is definitely worth the effort. Cormier does a masterful job of weaving various motifs throughout his narrative -- the chills, the bicycle, even the color gray, as well as several others. As a former college instructor, I would think this novel could provide the basis for some excellent, thought-provoking compositions by juniors or seniors in high school. But, as I said to begin with: Kids, read this out loud with an adult!
Anonymous 3 days ago
I Am Cheese is a very interesting book with suspense and mystery. Though the book was confusing, I still enjoyed it! In this book there are 2 different narratives mixed together. The first one is about the boy's bike journey and the second one is about an interrogation between the boy and a doctor. For those who like reading something suspenseful, I strongly recommend this book!
Anonymous 3 days ago
This book is very good and will read more by Robert Cormier. Adam Farmer is on a journey - he has to get to Rutterburge with a parcel for his father. But as he travels, he starts to remember the events leading up to this point, memories which are also being prised out in gruelling psychiatric interviews. What is the secret of Adam Farmer? And what will happen when he finds out?
Guest More than 1 year ago
do not be frustrated when you first start this book. I am fourteen and extremely impatient, but I was determined to read this book... That was a great decision. This novel is a bit slow in the beginning, but get past the first fifteen pages or so and you'll be hooked. We are the audience for Adam's mental journal. He brings us on the long awaited journey to find his father, and while doing so, we also witness his conversation with the 'doctor' he must have sessions with every day. You'll be rooting for Adam every step of the way. Be prepared though, to cry for him at the end. 'enjoy!'
Guest More than 1 year ago
while reading the book most things made sense and seemed interesting but the end i was so confused and had so many questions. I was disapointed because i thought it would be a great book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While reading this book, going along on Adam's journey i felt if not confused, empty like the book genuinely depressed me. I really wouldn't reccomend this book to an individual. Maybe to a class to see how other people felt about it but not leisurly.
junnie anderson 3 days ago
the novel i am the cheese was a well executed book with very descriptive details. this book was a very well written book and i give it 5 stars and i recommend it to others who like this type of crime/ adult fiction genre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you dont get the name of the book you eather didnt read it or you are lacking in reading comprehinsion badly. The book quotes the farmer and the dail. At the end of the song it says the cheese standas alone. Well the main charictor is the cheese because he has lost everything when his parents die in a car crash. Now i hope ylou and others get it because this is a realy good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MartyT1 More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was very well-written and intriguing. However, like a couple other reviewers have mentioned, it is sometimes required reading for students who really are too young for the content and complexity of the story and topics. It was required reading for me in Middle School, and though I am and always have been an avid reader and a pretty complex and what my friends call a hyper-analytical thinker, I found it to be somewhat disturbing. I just feel that it should be reserved for a more stable time in the life of a teen, perhaps 10th grade and up. Maybe 9th, but not Middle School. It is quite dark and depressing, besides being hard to follow and confusing. It centers around the ideology of not knowing what is real and true and who to trust-and the central character’s crisis is stemming from the fact that what they know isn’t real. I just feel that that is too much to put on a Middle School student. Save it for upper high school students. 
Daryl_Hajek More than 1 year ago
A good psychological drama/thriller.  I enjoyed some elements of suspense throughout the book.  A good read.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why is it called i am the cheese also this book is confusing boring and stupid if there was minus nine thousand and one rating then it would get lower than that
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have to read this book in school. Very confusing to me but reading what others have to say it makes sence
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Imagine biking a far distance to visit your dad. The character did just that. This book is entitled I Am The Cheese by Robert Cormier. This book is about a boy named Adam Farmer who lives in Monument, Massachusetts. Adam wants to bring his dad a present in Rutterburg, Vermont. On Adam’s bike ride to Rutterburg, Vermont he runs into a bunch of problems. The book has two sets: past and present. The past is mainly the story and the present is revealed in a dialogue on a tape. One of the things I liked about this book was the mind twisting action. I also liked the ways he solved his problems, because I think I knew what was going to happen and it ended up differently. He solves his problems kind of a weird or in a funny way. The things I did not like about the book were how long Adam’s parents kept secrets from him. Adam has good physical and emotional traits. For his physical strength he can bike a long period of time before he has to take a break. Adam can travel a far distance in a short period of time. For emotional features Adam says how much he misses his girlfriend and how sad he is during his ride. Adam’s physical and emotional features play an important role in the story because they motivate him to keep moving without stopping. This makes him human. I would recommend this book to people who like suspense, action, and romance. The thing’s the reader must do in order to enjoy the book is to imagine being a character in the book and experience the things that is happening to them. This is a book I would suggest you buy for your own reading pleasure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Think of yourself riding your bike miles just to go see a special person. This book is called I Am Cheese by Robert Cormier and it’s about a boy name Adam Farmer, who rode his bike to Rutterburg, Vermont from Monument. Adam was an ordinary kid who was riding his bike to Rutterburg to go see his father at the hospital. Adam lived with his parents at Monument. He likes a girl named Amy Hertz; he met her at the library when they bumped into each other. Adam found out some secrets his parents were hiding from him. The thing I liked about this book is that Adam Rode his bike all the way to Rutterburg, Vermont. I liked how he would go that far to go see his father at the hospital. I also liked how the old man at the train station gave him the direction were to go, I would get lost if somebody didn’t show me the directions. There was nothing in this book that I didn’t like. It’s just typical of me to say I liked everything in a book. Adam is always frustrated when he couldn’t figure something out. At first he was a boy that never doubted his parents, but when he found out secrets they’ve been hiding from him, he started becoming suspicious. He felt trapped because he couldn’t figure out the puzzle to the secrets they were hiding. I would highly recommend I Am The Cheese to anyone that likes to get their selves deep into mysteries and secrets, readers should expect a lot of figurative language and tape recording in the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do you ever think how scary it would be to go on a rode trip by yourself? Well, it would be scary if you were alone on your bike. The book I am the Cheese by Robert Comier is about, a boy named Adam Farmer goes on a journey to find his father in a town far away. In the book I am the Cheese Adam travels on his bike to meet his father some where far away. He meets lots of people for directions and for other things that might come up as he is traveling. The best part of this book is how the author tells Adams life, and how he makes I feel realistic. The characters in this story take a while for them to kick in and get to be known in this book. There is nothing that I really dislike in this story, this was a great book that I liked very much, and it is a genre that I like. The main character Adam in this story is interesting and he seems to figure out things that are hard to get to and he knows how to protect himself at certain parts in the book. I would recommend the I Am the Cheese. I would recommend this book to readers who some likes a good story with some twist and turns. Readers need to be aware of how Adams life is twisted in his story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do you ever feel like you’re alone? Well, that is how Adam Farmer feels like throughout this whole book called “I Am the Cheese” by Robert Comier. He lives in Monument, Massachusetts and he is going to Rutterburg, Vermont to give his dad a gift. “I Am the Cheese” is about Adam’s life. On this journey Adam discovers many secrets behind his life. The thing I like about this book is the way Adam is really brave. I wish I could be brave like Adam. That is part of the reason I like this book. Another thing I liked was that Adam is willing to talk to strangers. The things I disliked were when he was on his bike to go to his dad in Rutterburg, Vermont. The reason I disliked it was that it never made sense to me. The book was confusing because it was complex and had many pieces to the story. Adam is very weird in many ways but he is a very nice person and shy to people he doesn’t like. In the story, his bike gets taken and he has to talk to this fat guy to find out where his bike is. This shows how he is shy to strangers. The kind of reader that would love this book would be people who like mysteries. Readers should expect to be really confused in the beginning, but at the end you will get it and it will make sense! I think that readers will like it a lot because it is really hard to put down. I recommend buying this book today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do you ever think about just having one friend throughout your whole childhood? In the book I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier, Adam Farmer doesn’t have a regular childhood like us. I am The Cheese is about a boy named Adam Farmer who thinks about who he is. He is an adventure to give his father something. He remains in his own little world and gets uncomfortable when forced to talk to others, during this trip, he stays on his own. Something I like about I Am the Cheese is the numbers. The numbers are when Adam and his friend Amy make these dares and no matter what, they both have to do them. I compare these to me because I like to try new things. Another reason I like the book is how the author describes Adam and the events in great detail throughout the book. Some things I dislike about the book are that it shorter than I wanted. Another reason I like the book is that the author had events that weren’t important or relevant in the book. The main character is Adam Farmer. Adam feels ashamed and confused and stupid most of the time because he doesn’t know what is going on at all. Adam doesn’t really get along with anyone else but Amy Hertz because Amy was his friend for a very long time, and he trusts her. Adam feels foolish and dumb about himself. He believes the way to fix his life is to find his father and give him a gift. Adam doesn’t share his beliefs with anyone else but himself because he a shy person and stands alone. I would recommend the book because the author told it in an interesting way. The author did a good job describing Adam Farmer. The people that would enjoy this book are at a high school grade level or people that like mystery and crime books. What you need to expect so you can enjoy the book, is that in the beginning of the book it is hard to follow. However as the book goes on you will enjoy it. You should get this book because it is one of the most amazing books I have read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do you ever wonder what it would be like not knowing who you really are? It would be strange and frightening to be a lost teen. In the book I am the cheese by Robert Cormier, Adam farmer thinks he is on a journey, but finds himself to discovering many hidden secrets of his life. In the book I Am the Cheese, Adam farmer goes on a journey from Massachusetts to Vermont to find his father. In additional to this story, Adam is also discovering new secrets about his family, his life, and him self. One thing that I liked about the book was the setting and how to understand where Adam is and what is happening you have to really pay attention. One thing I didn’t like was how there were three stories that I needed to follow; Adam’s bike trip, his discussion with his therapist, and memories of his parents. In I Am the Cheese, Adam feels emotional, sad, and confused. All of his feelings start to change when he talks or about Amy. Socially Adam does not like people. His only real friend is Amy, otherwise he is alone, quiet, and still. I would highly recommend this book to any one who likes a complex story. Also to enjoy this book you need to have a good imagination and must notice everything that goes on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do you think he’ll be able to find out his real identity? I Am the Cheese is full of adventures. Once you start reading you’ll want to keep turning the pages and never stop. The author is Robert Cormier. This book is about a young boy named Adam Farmer. He goes on a bike ride to visit his father in Rutterburg, Vermont at a hospital. He brings along a package for his What I like about this book is Adam. He is determined to go see his father so far away. One example why I like this is because of Adams words; “It’s cold as I pedal along, the wind like a snake slithering up my sleeves and into my jacket and pants legs, too but I keep pedaling.” What I don’t like about the book is Whipper, he’s a person Adam met while resting at a restaurant. Whipper bullies Adam and threatens him. He also pushed Adam into a ditch. Another reason why I dislike this book is because Adam’s family kept secrets away from him. Families should not keep secrets away from one another. One theme of this book is loneliness. Loneliness is so important because it can affect your life. Loneliness hurts and it’s bad because you’d like someone to keep you company and someone to keep you smiling or laughing. Also, you’d like someone to not give up on you and be able to go on with life. If you are interested in adventures, families, or secrets, I recommend you read this book because it is quite surprising. In order to read this book you must understand the message they are trying to tell you and pay close attention. This book is worth buying for your own personal library.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like adventure, action, mystery and drama books then you should read I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier This book is about a kid named Adam Farmer who is on a bike and traveling to Rutterburg, Vermont to deliver a package to his father. Throughout the story he runs into a lot of drama that prevents him from getting to his destination safely. What I like about this story is Adam Farmer. He always makes the story interesting when he’s either mad or sad or if others disrespect him through the story. I had no dislikes about the story and that is very rare. Adam Farmer is a kid who is very smart in school but does not have street smarts. Adam is positive that there’s something wrong with him, but isn’t sure what it is. This character does not have what it takes to survive in the outside world. I know this because he’s not good at solving complex situations. Throughout the story Adam learns a lot about his family and himself. I recommend this book to 10th grade boys or older who enjoy adventure, drama and mystery books. This book takes a while to get interesting so you should give it some time. I think readers should buy this book because it’s a good book. This book also gives you the curious feeling that pushes you to want to read more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do you like to read books with thrills and adventure? If so, I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier is a book for you. I Am the Cheese is a good book that is filled with adventure. It is filled with adventure because it is all about Adam’s big journey. It is in both first person and third person. It also has a lot of thrills in it. For me I liked the whole book, but the best part for me would have to be how the book is filled with adventure. I like that it was about adventure is because I like to go on adventures. I didn't dislike any of it because I usually like books that I read. One major topic in the book is fear. The author always brings up Adam’s fear throughout the book. I think he does this to tell readers that no matter what they do they will always have some kind of fear whether it’s a small fear or a big fear. I recommend reading this book even if you think you won’t like it. I think this book is meant for a teen reader. To enjoy this book I would recommend that you try to compare it to your life in some way. You should also be prepared to deal with how it is laid out because it is tough. It switches back and forth from different topics. Something that is different in this book from others is how it is in two different point of views. Buy it. It is worth the money.