Wow, where do I even begin with a book like this? What a roller coaster of emotions! Of course, I read the synopsis, but I was not expecting something like this.
TRIGGER WARNING: Child abuse
Title: A List of Cages
Author: Robin Roe
Release date: January 10, 2017
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Length: 320 pages (U.S. hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) “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 kindhearted. 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…”
Writing a review for a book like this is hard. It deals with some very tough issues, so I thought a trigger warning was definitely appropriate.
I liked all but one character in this book. I was very endeared toward Adam and Julian, and how Adam was incredibly genuine. Julian was so innocent and sweet. No one deserves to be in the circumstance he was in, and it was nice to see that he had a small group of friends who cared for him, even though he had a hard time comprehending the hows and whys of it.
I found the writing style captivating. I devoured this book within a few days. Mainly because it was just that good, and also because I wanted to see it to the end. This book was both a difficult and delightful read. We want all situations to work out as it did in the end for Julian and Adam, but unfortunately, there are many times when it does not.
I wasn’t sure what to make of Emerald and Adam. I felt as if Emerald resented Julian in a weird way, especially how he affected their relationship. I was very confused about Charlie, and how often the narrator spoke about how violent he was or how he always seemed angry and mean. We don’t really see that until the end (and for good reason). Another thing that threw me off were the teachers. Julian is only fourteen in this book, and the way one teacher in particular speaks to the students is very degrading. I understand there are most likely teachers like that, but it is definitely not good for a teacher to call out a student in such a negative way. That was extremely disheartening to read about as I feel like it sometimes dehumanizes both teacher and student.
As for the ending, I am glad justice was served in some way. The book did end very open-ended, but I definitely think it was a good open-ended conclusion. If you’re willing to read a book with such tough content, give this book a try. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.