A LIST OF CAGES by Robin Roe, Disney-Hyperion, Jan. 10, 2017, Hardcover, $17.99 (young adult)
I read Robin Roe’s A List of Cages a few weeks ago, and it’s stuck with me since.
At the center of A List of Cages are Adam and Julian. The two were brothers for a time, with Adam’s mom taking Julian in as a foster child. But then Julian went to live with his uncle, and life moved on.
Now Adam is in his senior year of high school, and he has the cushiest elective possible as an aid to the school psychologist. Adam basically spends the whole period sitting around texting his friends. But things get a lot more complicated when the psychologist asks him to track down a troubled teen who can’t seem to make his way to her office.
The freshman is Julian, and Adam can’t wait to be reunited. It’s been five years since the boys have seen each other, and at first, everything seems as it once was. Julian still likes to write stories and draw pictures more suitable for little kids. But as they spend more and more time together, Adam realizes things aren’t as they should be. Julian is keeping secrets, and those secrets could be the undoing of both boys.
There are so many things from A List of Cages that keep this book in the forefront of your mind: 1) Robin Roe’s beautiful prose. Robin gracefully switches between Adam and Julian’s voices. You never once question whose head you’re in, and yet there’s a symbiotic thread that runs through both views. 2) Adam and Julian. These are two characters you immediately like despite their flaws. You want them to succeed and your heart aches equally for them. 3) The supporting cast. A List of Cages wouldn’t work without the friends and family that surround Adam and Julian. These characters are richly developed and add depth and context throughout.
A List of Cages is not a “light” book. It deals with some pretty serious issues. But in Robin’s gentle hands, those issues are handled with tact and care. A List of Cages is one of my favorite books so far of 2017.
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