Book Review // A List of Cages by Robin Roe

Book Review // A List of Cages by Robin RoeA List of Cages by Robin Roe
Published by Disney Book Group on January 10th 2017
Rating: five-stars
Genres: Young Adult, Social Themes, Physical & Emotional Abuse, Family, Orphans & Foster Homes, Friendship
Pages: 232
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When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he's got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn't easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can't complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian--the foster brother he hasn't seen in five years. Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He's still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what's really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives. First-time novelist Robin Roe relied on life experience when writing this exquisite, gripping story featuring two lionhearted characters.

A List of Cages is one of those books that you’ll be thinking about long, long, long after you’ve finished reading. It’s the kind of book that you know you will never be able to fully do justice to – in reviews, on social media, telling your friends. It’s an immensely powerful read, that deals with many, many horrific things, things you would never expect in such a short novel, from the synopsis or the cover, but Robin Roe has done it all justice. It’s an astonishing debut novel.

This actually reads like a younger novel, especially Julian’s POV, but this is most definitely meant for more mature audiences, teenagers who can handle everything in the book, because it genuinely isn’t a pleasant read. There’s moments that made me happy inside, but they were always tempered by the other stuff, and it made me cringe. I was 15% into the novel and I knew I just wanted to keep Julian safe from everyone around him, because people can be real jerks. The people at school, mocking him for liking a book, at least he reads; I can’t stand bullying. In any form, and it just riled me up because it always happens to the ones who wouldn’t hurt flies. Julian seemed so much younger than fourteen (nearly fifteen) and I felt so protective towards him, I just wanted to shake everyone around him and ask them to stop being such horrible, awful human beings.

Then enter Adam, who is like an excitable puppy. He suffers from ADHD, can’t really stand being left in one place too long because he gets bored, but he was like a ray of blinding sunshine, after a horrible storm. He lit the book up, and the way he treated Julian made me want to cry all over again – it’s genuinely amazing what a little bit of kindness can achieve; to see Julian coming out of himself a bit more, talking to Adam, spending time with Adam and his friends, knowing what it’s like to have actual friends, it was just the most emotional heart-strings-pulling event ever. Their friendship, the kindness they show to each other (because it’s not one sided, Adam isn’t being Julian’s pity friend) it all just adds up to me being an emotional mess.

This was honestly such a hard read, but such an important read. I had no idea going in what was going to happen, no idea it would get so emotional, so hard to read, that I would literally want to pull my eyes out so I didn’t have to read any more. I was incredibly close to putting it in the freezer, Joey style. Robin Roe is an incredibly storyteller, and A List of Cages is an incredible, heart-breaking book.


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