My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Plot: 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.

Written in First Person POV from both Adam and Julian. The chapters are easily identified as to whose POV you are reading from so there is no trouble in following the progression of the story.

My Review: A List of Cages is gut wrenching and dreadfully wonderful. I both loved and hated the book. I loved the characters and their development, I despised Julian’s Uncle, I wanted to rip the pages with his scenes from the book and burn them. But that was the writers intention so, mission accomplished I say.

This is a book you should read with caution however. It took a turn on me I didn’t see coming and it was dark, depressing, and I really did feel how alone Julian was. It’s an eye opening window into the world of a troubled teen who experiences some of the worst emotional and physical abuse imaginable. What crushed me even more is that there actually are people out there just like Julian’s uncle. 

Julian is fourteen and on top of struggling with the loss of his parents he is placed with an uncle who would probably treat a dog better than he treated Julian. I couldn’t help but feel for Julian, I wanted to wrap my arms around him and tell him he was important and none of what had happened to him was his fault. He struggles with dislexia, feeling out of place, awkward, and extremely shy. Through all the books dark corners however, there is light, love, and laughter in Adam.

Adam is a senior and almost eighteen, he’s fantastic. His outgoing persoanilty, confidence, and positive outlook on life was like coming up for fresh air. I loved him. Everyone loved him, he was the most popular kid in school, but he never let it go to his head. Adam looked out for everyone who seemed like an underdog. He was funny and energetic due to his ADHD. It was impossible not to love him. However it was his extreme confidence and assurance that seemed to be his weakness in the end. 

His interaction with Julian was incredible. He really did treat Julian like a younger brother. Always worried about him, looking out for him, and feeling protective of him. The way he reached out to Julian was beautiful. If only more older teens were like Adam maybe there would be less bullies in schools.

So even though I loved this book, it didn’t make the five star rank because there was something I didn’t like. It seemed like almost every authority figure in Julian’s life was hateful and rude to him. The teachers acted bitter, like they hated children. The police talking to Julian and Adam were awful, even the nurses seemed to be annoyed at having to treat Julian. I can probably count the number of adults who were nice to Julian and Adam on one hand. That just seemed very unrealistic to me. I have found most teachers tend to be warm to kids in school and are often the first to notice when things are off about a student. Nurses and police are usually extremely kind when dealing with a child suffering from extreme abuse. Yes on occasion there are the few individuals in these positions who may be rude or unkind, heartless even, but these are the ones that you can usually count on one hand. In Julian’s case the only kindness he found was in Adam, Adams mother, the Social Worker, and a School Counselor. Even Adam came across multiple unkind authority figures. It’s because of this I felt I just couldn’t give the book five stars. But four and half is still a pretty high rating.

There was cursing in the book but I would say mild. However the dark theme of the book and the trauma Julian went through would make me give this book a PG-13 rating. There is a small romance story between Adam and Emerald but the scenes are very mild and not descriptive or vulgar.

Overall I recommend this book with a word of caution to those who struggle with abuse triggers.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I read it in one day.