A List Of Cages by Robin Roe
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Summary: 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.
*I requested a copy from the publisher and received a finished copy. This in no way influences my thoughts*
My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½
My Thoughts: A List Of Cages will capture and shatter your heart with each and every page!
*Note: This novel discusses abuse & neglect! Be aware if those are triggers for you*
Adam and Julian are quite different. Told through dual POV, the reader will come to understand how their lives aren’t what one would expect from looking in from the outside and the struggles they are facing.
These characters were written with such depth and felt so real. I sympathized with Julian + Adam at every step of the way and when truths are revealed about Julian’s difficult home life, my heart was aching. Both are complete opposites yet they find themselves reunited once again and while it is a difficult road for them both, rekindle their friendship and help each other along the way. They each have a distinct voice and its clearly seen throughout the narrative.
I adored Charlie and Emerald. Though they are side characters, Roe makes them unforgettable and through both POV’s they truly come to life and are given such depth that they feel just as real as Adam and Julian. As a reader you come to see their growth through their interactions with Julian and Adam, but also the small facets to their personality that feel so real.
Roe’s writing really brings out a deep and moving narrative/voice through each of her characters and especially through Julian from his loss, fears, and hopes.
Julian has dyslexia and Adam has ADHD, while I don’t have personal experiences with either of those, Roe not only discussed them and made them a clear part of these character’s, but also through their POV there were moments of internal thoughts or dialogue which showed how it influenced them with events in their day-to-day life and overall I felt I learned more about ADHD + Dyslexia through their narrative.
There are a variety of topics discussed in this novel and are very integral parts of the story from mental health, foster care, and overarching themes of friendship, family, as well as self-growth and change.
Julian and Adam meet once again after many years apart, considering they used to be foster brothers when Julian’s parents passed away from a tragic accident.
However Adam begins to notice that Julian may be keeping secrets. It was great to see Adam invite Julian in with his friends and in general want to reconnect with him. After spending a lot of time apart, it was very realistic to read Julian hesitant and weary about Adam’s friends, but at the same time it was heartbreaking!
Julian is a character who I felt my heart breaking for and while he always doubted it, he was truly the hero of his own story and through the worst moments he kept moving forward and that was so inspiring!
While there were so many memorable lines, one that will truly stay with me and really encompasses what this novel is about is “Hate ricochets,but kindness does too.”
This line speaks volumes. I could definitely remember moments where I was negative or unhappy about something and reading this line had me thinking “Was it worth it?” being upset or angry about something? No. That energy could be directed towards making a bad situation better or seeing things from a more positive light. That line truly stayed with me for the rest of the story.
The theme of kindness and hope are really evident in this novel, especially through Adam’s character. He is a generally happy and overall positive person and its his character that shows how easy it is to bring positivity or encouragement into any situation when times seem tough. He puts others before himself and knows that it makes him feel better.
The reason I’m struggling between 4 and 4.5, is that there is a small time jump (which usually takes away from the linearity of plots for me personally) additionally, the plot does jump around rather quickly due to the character’s voices and it made the story a little too fast paced at times which took away from the flow of the story (mostly near the middle/end).
Regardless this was a spectacular novel and one you should definitely keep your eye on when its out this month!
This is YA Contemporary with so much heart discussing friendship, abuse, family but has an overall inspiring message about hope and overcoming difficult situations, knowing others are always there for you and finding yourself through it all when all seems lost.