My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
“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.”
“Hate ricochets, but kindness does too.”
First, I have to say how much I adore the cover. I am so happy to have this book on my shelves, and not just because of the stunning cover (which is most certainly a plus), but because of the incredible story held within. This book isn’t just beautiful on the outside. It’s beautiful on the inside, as well. And I know that sounds hella cheesy, but it is so. very. true. This book has easily become one of my favorite YA reads. (Of all time? Maybe. Probably. Definitely).
A List of Cages is a book with a big heart, just like a good number of the characters detailed among the pages. The story is founded on likable/lovable characters you can’t help but root for as they move through their lives, experiencing heartbreak and love, happiness and sadness, friendship and loneliness. Julian, Adam, and their group of friends are an intriguing gathering of individuals who will make you laugh, will make you angry, and who will make you believe in the strength of kindness and love, as well as friendship and family.
The characters are the highlight of this book. Julian is a shy, yet, sweet boy who is living a life filled with secrets. After the loss of his parents, Julian is struggling to come to terms with his new situation in life while also fighting to carve out a piece of happiness for himself. His living situation is kept under wraps throughout a large part of the story with a spattering of (pretty upsetting) clues into how he is treated at home. Despite the issues Julian faces at home and at school, he remains sincere and filled with childish wonder as he possesses an imagination that keeps his head above water and in the clouds.
“It’s strange how many ways there are to miss someone. You miss the things they did and who they were, but you also miss who you were to them. The way everything you said and did was beautiful or entertaining or important. How much you mattered.”
While I absolutely love Julian, Adam is (hands down) my favorite character. He is a ray of sunshine in this book and I couldn’t help but smile every time he appeared on the page. Roe created a character that is the essence of goodness. Adam may be quite oblivious at times, but his caring nature, cheerfulness, and determination to help Julian make him a favorite among his friends, his teachers, and many other characters (as well as myself).
Adam and Julian’s relationship is rekindled due to special circumstances, but it is further bolstered by their complementary attitudes and perspectives of the world. Adam is Julian’s guide into a happier life and as a result, the two boys develop a very close, fraternal relationship built on trust and compassion. What’s more, Adam’s group of friends (especially Charlie; I love Charlie) work together to bring Julian out of his shell, and they do their best to both protect him and to help him grow as an individual.
“Because people heal a whole lot faster when they’re with someone who loves them.”
Roe’s writing packs a punch as she approaches a plethora of topics, including young love, learning disabilities, mental illness, and abuse. She writes about these subjects with an equal balance of humor and seriousness. I laughed out loud and nearly cried with joy and with sadness as Roe created an insightful, contemporary read that is meant to touch the minds and the hearts of her audience.
Even though I was not much a fan of an event that happened towards the end, as I found it to be a bit overdramatic, I thought the entire book was artfully crafted and incredibly touching. This is a poignant tale that is filled with hope, and it is a tale I think everyone should read. A List of Cages is a roller coaster of emotions, but I was incredibly happy to have taken the time to experience this wonderful story. And I hope you will, too!