Title : A List of Cages
Author : Robin Roe
Genre : YA Contemporary
Goodreads 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 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…
Wow. This book.
For a plot which at first glance, reads like a regular YA contemporary novel, I wasn’expecting this book to shake me up as it did. It had something which I’ve read in very few YA novels, and it was genuinely a breath of fresh air. This book is about friendship, kindness, and always having faith that there is good in this world.
When we are first introduced to Julian, straight up we know he’s not going to be your average fourteen-year old teenage protagonist. He’s not just neglected by his teachers for having learning disabilities, but he’s fighting the sadness of his parents’ death, is lonely and bullied by his friends, and doesn’t have anyone to confide in. From the very start, he’s a protagonist you unknowingly, unconsciously, fall in love with. There is something about his innocence and his vulnerability which catched my breath from the very first page – he’s just a ray of sunshine basically.
Julian used to live in foster care, in Adam’s house when he was taken away from there to live with his uncle. Years later, Adam and Julian meet again in school and a new friendship develops between them. Adam himself is probably the nicest, kindest character I’ve read about in quite a while. His character literally made me rethink my behavior pattern and how I should change it and bring out more of the good in me because he taught me how important being a good person is.
This book handles domestic abuse in a way which is disturbing yet eye-opening – it brings the terror and the pain on the page and makes you feel the same way the character does. I’m pretty sure I flinched in some places and some of it was painful to read, but also important because this is something which is existant and so wrong.
The side characters were all wonderful, they were all just nice people. [I know I’ve used that word a lot in this review, yikes.] I do feel that the romance was unnecessary and didn’t really add anything to the plot. However, before going in, you need to know that the book is definitely not about romance. It is primarily about friendship and kindness and parenthood, and there is a romantic side-story which I found unnecessary. Just that, I didn’t really care about the couple.
The writing was on point – it didn’t try to overwhelm with flowery language and nor did the author overdo it anywhere. At the same time, it was far from being bland or plain – it was just the perfect mix of emotions and straighforwardness you want from such a book.
Overall this book will definitely stand out as an excellent contemporary novel, and is here to stay with us for the long run. It not just provides freshness and tried-and-tested themes in unique ways, but also presents heart-touching characters and a very emotional story.