A List of Cages by Robin Roe / ★★★★☆
Summary: Adam, a cheerful high school senior always on the move because of his ADHD, and Julian, a kindhearted freshman with social and learning disabilities, were foster brothers after Julian’s parents died until Julian’s uncle took him away. Five years later, the two of them are reunited and both are delighted, but slowly Adam begins to realize there are things Julian isn’t saying.
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.
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
This book was so sweet and painful. When I initially picked it up and flipped to the first page, I didn’t intend to begin reading it right away, but as soon as I started I could not stop. This was a book that, if I had had the time to finish in one sitting, I would have. It was a quick, fast paced book that really tugged at my heartstrings, some in a personal way. It told a story about children who don’t quite fit in a world ruled by adults, about kids who don’t quite conform to standards set by other kids, but also about friendship, and innocence and love. It was lovely, harrowing, and heartbreaking, and I loved it.
I did think this book could have done with a bit more length. The second part, and the end of the book in particular, felt a bit rushed. I think a little more time spend with the characters could have added a little more depth and a bit more of the closure I would have liked to have by the end. But this was still a fantastic story and my favorite thing about it was the characters.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever loved characters so immediately, especially Julian. He’s entirely the reason I picked this book up and couldn’t put it down. He’s one of the sweetest, most wonderful characters I’ve ever read, and while I’ve never struggled with disabilities like he does, I could very acutely relate to the way the author portrayed his social ineptitude as a high schooler. It was almost like a painful trip back in time, reading some of Julian’s interactions and inner thoughts. Julian was such a wonderful, wonderful character and he was my favorite thing about this book.
This book was also told through the point of view of Adam, and he was SO enjoyable to read. His narration was was funny, and he was so incredibly lovable, cheerful, and energetic, thoughts bouncing everywhere. While Julian was the standout character to me, it was Adam’s character development that stood out to me more. Though Julian is perhaps the more “innocent” one, it was Adam’s loss of innocence through what Julian was going through that really struck me. I do wish the book had spent a bit more time on it – it’s where I thought the plot was rushed – but it also makes sense, since Adam himself was never one to slow down.
I also really liked the secondary characters in this book, and my only complaint is that the plot didn’t delve a little deeper with them.
What stood out to me most about the writing of A List of Cages was that it had a lot of poignant passages and a lot of funny passages. I think it takes a certain kind of skill to make prose, not just dialogue, funny, and Roe definitely pulled it off. One second the prose was tugging painfully at my heart, and then the next was I smiling.
Roe’s writing style was one that didn’t waste any time. It was easy and quick to read, and she didn’t dally on details or in scenes, which in part made it enjoyable, and in part lent to the rushed feeling I had at the end. Overall, though, I really, really enjoyed reading this book, and I loved the alternating points of views between Julian and Adam. I thought it was very well done.
Was I satisfied?
Overall, yes! The characters were the most enjoyable part of this book, and I know they’ll stick with me. It just felt a bit too rushed around the end for me. Still…I loved this book.