I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier



Cormier, R. (1977). I Am the Cheese. New York, NY: Dell Laurel-Leaf. ISBN 0440940605

Plot Summary

Adam is on a journey to find his father, but he encounters several obstacles along the way that threaten to keep him from his destination. Throughout Adam’s journey, he must overcome these obstacles and his own fear to learn the truth about his past and his present.

Critical Analysis

In I Am the Cheese, Cormier has created a suspenseful tale of a young man on a mission to discover his personal story. Readers will be eager to turn each page in this classic story of (a young) man versus the system. Except for the novelty of the witness protection program, there are few details that date this novel despite its original release of 1977. Teens today will still be able to find relevance in Adam’s journey and some may be able to identify all too closely with his mental and emotional struggles. Jumping back and forth between two settings can initially confuse the reader, but as the story unfolds, the location in time of the two places begins to be revealed and clears matters a bit. This classic is appropriate for young adults and should still be included in reading lists today as it has held up over time due to Cormier’s vivid imagery and attention to detail.


Using a preferred method of placing students into groups, create groups of 4 students each.

Students will pick a scene from the book in which Adam is conversing with “T” and they will act out this scene and record it. Students may use their own device or devices checked out from the school.

One student will play the role of Adam, one student will play the role of “T”, one student will record the scene, and one student will be the director. Use preferred method of job assignment if so desired, or let students pick, depending on the class.

Students will need to edit their finished product with an editing program such as iMovie.

Related Resources

Mental Health Website

In the book, Adam struggles with some mental health issues. This website contains a page entitled, “For Young People Looking for Help”. On this page, there is a video of Demi Lovato sharing her struggles with mental health issues and what she did to seek help. Sharing this website with students could help them feel like they are not alone and help them to realize that it is ok to struggle with these issues since even a famous singer struggles with them. It can also help the students to understand more about the struggles of the character in the book.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (n.d.). For Young People Looking for Help. In MentalHealth.gov. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/young-people/.

CNN Article on Witness Protection

Adam’s family was one of the first families to be in the Witness Protection program started by the government in the early 1970’s. This article gives some minimal details on how the program works and explains some of the effects on families of being in the program. This information will help readers understand a little more about Adam’s life and why it was difficult for him and his parents.

Falcon, G. (2013, February 16). Inside the witness protection program. CNN. Retrieved from: http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/16/justice/witness-protection-program/

Published Review

Unknown Author. (1998, March 1). [Review of the book I Am the Cheese]. Horn Book Guide.

Available online from Horn Book Guide:http://www.hornbookguide.com/cgi-bin/hbonline.pl

Image from Google.com, accessed June 4, 2015. Cover art property of Random House, Inc.


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