Synopses & Reviews
In this complicated, chilling novel of the savagery of modern society, Adam mentally relives his past while facing the interrogation and trauma of his present life as a guest of the government.
"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
A boy's search for his father becomes a desperate journey to unlock a secret past. But it is a past that must not be remembered...if he is to survive.
About 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.
Reading Group Guide
In Robert Cormier's unforgettable novels, an individual often stands alone, fighting for what is right--or just to survive--against powerful, sinister, and sometimes evil people. His twisty, gripping stories explore some of the darker corners of the human psyche but always with a moral focus and a probing intelligence that compels readers to examine their own feelings and ethical beliefs. The questions that follow are intended to spur discussion and to provoke thoughtful readers to contemplate some of the issues of identity, character, emotion, and morality that make Cormier's books so compelling.
1. Adam is pedaling on the bike at the beginning and the end of the novel. What do you think this endless cycling refers to? Does the book have a sense of motion? Is there a destination?
2. Discuss the meaning of the title. Is it significant that it comes from a nursery song sung by Adam at the end of the book?
3. Adam is struggling to understand his identity. What composes his identity? What composes your identity? What defines you?
4. Do you think this novel is a tragedy? What types of injustice are done to Adam? How does the government view him? Does it value him? In what way(s)?
5. Adam is being manipulated by the doctors/ government. How is Cormier manipulating you as the reader and why?