Thanks to Disney for sending a copy, and for providing a prize pack!
by Robin Roe
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (January 10, 2017)
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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.
Just looking at this cover brings back all of the feels and emotions of this story. It takes an awful lot for a book to make me cry and this made me ugly cry. And not just at the end, I cried throughout the entire book. I don't say this often but I believe this book will change someone's life.
Adam and Julian are more than friends, they shared part of their childhood together when Julian lived with Adam as a foster child after his parents died. Julian left his happy life with Adam to life with his uncle, his only living relative. Life with his uncle turned out to not be as good as he had hoped. In fact, things were astronomically worse. But Julian is a people-pleaser so he didn't want to rock the boat, regardless of what it was doing to him. Little did Julian know that life would bring him and Adam back together at just the right time. Adam is thrust back into Julian's life when he is assigned to be the aide to the school psychologist. Adam is over-the-moon happy to be talking to Julian again but Julian isn't his normal outgoing self. That's when Adam realizes Julian is keeping secrets, dark secrets. Adam cannot sit by blindly while one of his friends, one that he considers a brother, has something awful happening. He sets out to find out what is going on with Julian and put a stop to it, even if it puts both of them in harm's way.
Ten million stars.
That is how I rate this book. This book hooked me from the first few pages and never, ever let go. When I wasn't reading this story, I was thinking about reading this story. I wanted to carry them with me wherever I went just in case I could steal a few moments to read a few pages. The pure raw emotion that come from A LIST OF CAGES was so powerful that it is still with me now and I finished this book a couple of weeks ago. What a beautifully haunting story about family, friendships, and brotherhood. This story also discusses ADHD, foster care, child abuse/neglect, trauma and so much more. This book is the trifecta and it is wonderfully done. The writing is masterful, and you will flow through this book without realizing how much you have read. Please note that all of these topics are very, very well discussed. They are not brought into the story just for the sake of a better story - they are legitimately very well thought out and brilliantly executed.
The two main characters now have a forever home in my heart. They felt so real and genuine that it was as if I could picture myself being friends with them in real life.
Adam has grown up with ADHD and most of his teachers just didn't know how to handle him in school. His mother made it one of her missions to get him off of all medicine and treat his ADHD with natural remedies. That type of mentality mixed with just being an overall good person meant Adam grew up being the embodiment of "a good person". He always had a bounce in his step and a smile on his face. He always wants to help everyone yet never take anything in return. He isn't in for "what can you do for me?". That is so refreshing in a protagonist. Adam quickly became one of my most favorite characters ever.
Julian had my heart from the moment he was introduced into the story. His soul is so pure that my heart broke with every struggle he had to endure. Reading everything he went through will shatter you but in the end, you will be mended. I promise. Just know Julian is another one of the most perfect characters I have ever read. I wanted to pull him out of the book, give him a huge hug, and tell him everything would be okay. I wanted to protect him from everything bad in the world.
The experiences Adam and Julian go through in this book test the boundaries of friendship but it also strengths them. They both grow so much. Adam already has a group of friends and happily brings Julian into the mix. Even though they don't think highly of Julian as first as they are Seniors and Julian is a Freshman, Adam does not let that bother him. He stands up for Julian every single time. Soon, everyone starts to see that Julian really is someone they want to have around. This group of friends will have a significant role later in the book. I won't give away anything here.
There is a line that is used in the book that hit me hard, "Hate ricochets, but so does kindness". This line was used in an exchange between Adam and Julian after Adam finds out some of the things Julian has gone through. It was said in regards to why the other chose to take the higher path of being positive instead of hitting back with anger and rage. This stayed with me because I feel this is something that almost all of us could stand remembering every single day. We could choose to be negative, hateful, and spiteful... but why? Just as much energy could be used to be positive and encouraging. Being nice to someone takes just as much of an effort as being mean. It is wasted efforts with no real outcome. You can't pay forward anger, but you certainly can pay forward kindness. I thought this was a beautiful and thought provoking line.
I know that bad things happen every day in the world, but this book reminded me just how much it can affect not just the person but those around them. This book makes me want to be a better person, and in that I feel this book succeeded where others have failed. I want to proudly display this on my shelf and highly recommend to every single person I come into contact with. I can say with absolute certainty that this book is already in my Top 5 Favorite Books of 2017. Please, add this to your TBR now, pre order it, request it from your library now. You will not regret it. If I could give this more than ten million stars, I would. It has earned every star in the universe.
- One (1) winner receives 2 copies of A List of Cages, one to keep and one to gift to a friend.
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About the Author
Robin Roe has a bachelor's degree from Cornell University and a master's from Harvard. She counseled adolescents in Boston before she moved to Dallas, Texas to run a mentoring program for at-risk teens. This is her first novel.
Praise for A List of Cages
"A remarkably gripping and moving tale of a life saved—in more than one way—by the power of friendship."
—Emma Donoghue, best-selling author of Room
"As inspiring as it is heartbreaking, A List of Cages is a hero story you will never forget."
—Tamara Ireland Stone, best-selling author of Every Last Word
"A poignant, hopeful story about loss, grief, abuse, and the transformative power of friendship."
—Amber Smith, New York Times best-selling author of The Way I Used to Be
* "A triumphant story about the power of friendship and of truly being seen."
—Kirkus Reviews starred review
* "A page-turner with a lot of compassion."—Booklist starred review