by Robert Cormier. (Knopf, 2007. ISBN 9780375840395. Order Info.) Novel. 256 pages. Grades 5-9.
This is a frightening novel which, like many of Cormier's books, makes the reader as afraid to go forward as his main character is. Cormier never makes things easy for us and this is one of his most mind-boggling.
Adam is riding his old, almost unrideable bike toward a hospital in Vermont where, he is convinced, his father waits for him. Interspersed with the exhausting and sometimes frightening trip, we read flashbacks from a taped interview between Adam and an enigmatic interviewer.
We learn that Adam and his mother and father have been relocated through a witness protection program—a fact that was not shared with Adam until he discovered some evidence on his own. However, his father has kept the specifics of the testimony from Adam for his own protection. Gradually, Adam discovers that the manipulation hasn't ended there and with him we find out what's happened to his parents.
It is also revealed, on those tapes, that Adam has been and is being heavily medicated, that his memories are full of gaps and that this interviewer, for reasons of his own, is helping him work his way through those gaps. Eventually we learn what the interviewer recommends for Adam's future.
Our realization that all of this is still impersonal, that the powers-that-be can have acted so callously, is the deeper horror in the book.
This is a hard, cynical and fascinating book.
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