It’s funny. I read this book a little bit ago, and now that I’m sitting and really thinking about it again, I feel all of the emotions over again. This review won’t be as long as usual, because to be honest it’s hard to describe a book like this. I think the most appropriate thing to say is, READ THIS.
A POWERFUL BOOK
“This part is hardest. A billion years of evolution tells your cells to run. But you can’t run. You have to turn around and face the desert wall. You have to be still. He doesn’t care if you cry, but you can’t fight.”
Before you want to get into this, you should be aware of the trigger warning here: (SPOILER) child abuse (/SPOILER). This was no easy read. If I’m being honest, I read the three quarters of this book with a lump in my throat. This is the story of Adam and Julian, two high school boys who lived together for a few years after Julian’s parents died, and until his uncle came back to take care of him. Or something like that, let’s say, because these aren’t the right words. Their lives grow apart for a few years, until they collide again…at the right moment. That book is a contemporary, but it’s one that screams out loud. It’s one that makes you grab the pages in anticipation, while the lump in your throat just grows and grows and cut your breath away. This wasn’t an easy read, but it made me highly emotional. If anything, this is for me the sign of the power of this book.
REAL, GENUINE CHARACTERS. ALSO, NEEDING HUGS.
“He’s only four years younger than me, but I feel so much older, or maybe he feels so much younger. I used to think struggle was what aged you, but if that were the case, Julian should’ve been a hundred years old. Now I wonder if the opposite is true. Maybe instead of accelerating your age, pain won’t let you grow.”
Told from a dual point of view, we get to meet Adam, and Julian. Both characters are very different and their voices stood out, which I appreciated. Both felt real and genuine. Adam has ADHD, and it was my first time reading about this, which was very interesting. Moreover, it didn’t feel stigmatized or cliché or anything, it just felt real and part of his life, his mother’s life, which I really appreciated. It wasn’t here to make a point, it was just here because it was part of the character. Adam was so refreshing to read about. He was always positive, always trying to help, which made me want to hug him basically all the time.
Julian, on the other side…well, I just wanted to hug him forever. When you feel like hugging the characters in a story, I’m guessing that’s a good sign, isn’t it? Julian is such a good character, yet he goes through so, so much. It’s heartbreaking to read about, and I just wanted him to be okay. He was so endearing, I quickly grew attached to him.
A BEAUTIFUL, HEARTBREAKING SURPRISE
“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 with them. The way everything you said and did was beautiful or entertaining or important. How much you mattered.”
A List of Cages definitely was a surprise. I started this book with no expectations at all, I kind of stumbled into it on NetGalley and decided to give it a try, and boy, I’m glad I did. I really am. I thought I wouldn’t feel too much. I thought it would be good, but nothing exceptional. But that book was different. At times, I wanted to stop reading, take a break, because everything happening just felt overwhelming and it was too much. But I couldn’t. The story was gripping, and the writing style was gorgeous, making me feel everything for the characters. It was a highly emotional, powerful, beautiful book. The subject is nothing easy to read about, let me warn you. But if you’re feeling okay with this, give it a try. Despite my discomfort about this, at times, I still ended up loving it, and I hope you will too.
Biggest thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free digital copy of this book. This did not, in any way, affect my opinion on this. All quotes are taken from the early copy of the book.
Final rating: 4 drops!
Do you want to read A List of Cages? Share your thoughts in comments!
Robin Roe, A List of Cages, Published by Disney Hyperion, January 10th 2017.
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.