In A List of Cages by Robin Roe, readers meet Adam and Julian. Adam loves his senior year elective as the school psychologist’s aide, and is even more thrilled when he realizes that a student he’s tasked to find turns out to be his former foster brother, Julian. Julian, however, isn’t as thrilled. He is secretive and anxious, panicking at sudden movements or gestures of friendship. Adam realizes that the time they’ve been apart in the last five years may have been darker than he could even imagine– but if he intervenes, it could cost both boys their lives.
This book absolutely destroyed me (in the most beautiful way)! I don’t think I’ve cried this hard while reading a book since I read If I Stay a few years back. I’d definitely give it a trigger warning for child abuse and violence, so please take care of yourself while you read this if these topics are difficult for you.
I was glued to this story and managed to read it in only two sittings, which is a testament to Roe’s captivating writing. The book’s narration was split between both Adam and Julian, and did a great job of contrasting the two characters’ home situations while also shedding light on the good that is truly in both of them. For half of the book, readers follow Adam’s realizations that things may not be quite right at Julian’s home and his mission to take him under his wing at school and with his friend group. For the other half, we feel the terror and trauma that Julian faces each and everyday, as well as the hesitation he has to Adam’s kindness.