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A List of Cages

A List of Cages

4.8 4
by Robin Roe

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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


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.
First-time novelist Robin Roe relied on life experience when writing this exquisite, gripping story featuring two lionhearted characters.

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 or 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

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 10/17/2016
Roe draws from her work with at-risk teens to create her first novel, a psychologically taut tale of foster brothers unexpectedly reunited. The story alternates between the perspectives of Adam, the son of a social worker, and Julian, who lived at Adam’s house for a time after his parents died. Seven years later, Julian, who currently lives with his uncle, enters the same high school where Adam is a senior. Adam again finds himself playing the role of big brother to Julian, but besides having grown older, some things about Julian have changed: he’s quieter, his clothes don’t fit, and he seems to be sick too often. After drawing grim conclusions about Julian’s home life and guardian, Adam opts not to speak out, a decision that could have serious consequences. Roe gives a close-up view of two teens with disabilities (Julian has dyslexia, Adam has been diagnosed with ADHD) while building a sharp contrast between their views of the world and sense of normalcy. Written with honesty and compassion, this book will resonate with a wide range of readers. Ages 12–up. Agent: Peter Steinberg, Foundry Literary + Media. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"Written with honesty and compassion, this book will resonate with a wide range of readers."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)


* "A triumphant story about the power of friendship and of truly being seen." —Kirkus Reviews starred review


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


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 remarkably gripping and moving tale of a life saved — in more than one way — by the power of friendship."
Emma Donoghue, best-selling author or Room


* "A page-turner with a lot of compassion."—Booklist starred review

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Julian—shy, quiet, and nervous—has just entered high school, and it's a nightmare. Kids pick on him for the children's books that he keeps in his backpack; teachers berate him for not speaking up in class and for handing in near-illegible assignments because of his undiagnosed dyslexia. He hides away in the school theater at lunchtime just to get away from everything, and he has to go home to his tyrannical and abusive uncle, who beats him with a switch. His daily appointments with the school psychiatrist yield nothing but further anxiety, until one day, Julian discovers that Adam, his former foster brother, is the psychiatrist's intern. Adam's family took Julian in after his parents were killed in a car crash, but then his uncle stepped forward as his legal guardian, and Julian was taken away. Adam, a bright, popular senior with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, takes Julian under his wing and brings him out of his shell, and when Julian abruptly "falls ill" for two weeks, Adam and his friends suspect there is something much more sinister at hand. Roe, a social worker, has written a stunning debut about loss, friendship, and the power of family. Many scenes of abuse will challenge readers with authentic detail; Julian suffers regular beatings and is, at one point, locked in a chest without food. Emotional, visceral, and heartbreaking, this novel offers expertly rendered characters and beautiful language, especially when describing Julian's struggles. VERDICT A potent and moving work. Do not pass over this book.—Tyler Hixson, School Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-09-19
In her debut, Roe tells the story of a friendship between two young men who will linger in the thoughts and minds of readers long after the final page is turned. Told through alternating first-person narration, the story of 14-year-old Julian and his former foster brother, 18-year-old Adam, is equally heartwarming and heartbreaking. Five years after losing his parents in a tragic accident and being taken from a loving foster home to live with a cold and brutal uncle, Adam Blake quite literally walks back into Julians life. Plagued by antsy feet courtesy of his ADHD, Adam is happy to be assigned the job of escorting Julian to the counseling sessions that hes been frequently skipping. Though both boys are thrilled to be reunited, theres an uneasiness that lies between them. Reclusive and wracked with self-doubt, Adam quickly realizes that this Julian is much different from the one he used to know. Roe deliberately unspools her story, keeping readers wondering why Julian, who clearly desperately craves connection, keeps Adam at arms length. Emotion courses through every sentence of this novel, whether it is love, compassion, or bone-chilling cruelty. Julian and Adam are dark-haired but otherwise racially indeterminate. A triumphant story about the power of friendship and of truly being seen. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

Disney Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet 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. Follow Robin on Twitter @robinroewriter.

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A List of Cages 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
18876111 3 months ago
Robin Roe was extremely kind in sending me a final copy of her debut! This book was my most anticipated January release. I have never been left speechless by a book before, and I say this in the best way possible. I had tears in my eyes when I was reading it. This book means so much to me as I have never been able to see myself represented in a book before. I also read this book in one sitting. It is told from two points of views, and it works so well due to how the stories of the two main characters fit together. First of all, I have never been able to connect to characters the way that I connected with both Adam and Julian. While Adam has ADHD and I have ADD, I could really relate to the struggles he went through in his life living with ADHD, and how his ADHD was treated. I truly loved Adam and almost all of the characters in this book. The characters had such an authenticity to them that isn't always found in fiction. My heart just broke for Julian with everything that he went through, I have never experienced anything that Julian experienced in terms of the abuse that he suffered. There was one way that I was able to relate to Julian and that is his struggles with school work because of his various learning disabilities, while all of his teachers didn't bother to even try to remotely help him and to understand why he struggled, I was fortunate to only have one teacher who didn't bother. I also loved the small romance in this book and how it fit so perfectly with the plot. The brotherly relationship between Adam and Julian was so heartwarming, and reading a book from the point of views of males was so refreshing. This book is the most authentic work of fiction I have ever read. It is so beautifully written, it is an emotional roller coaster that will break you in the best way possible. I can not recommend this book enough, and I definitely think everyone needs to read it.
Aditi-ATWAMB 3 months ago
In short, A List Of Cages is one of the BEST books on friendship, abuse, hope and family that the Young Adult world has to offer. A List of Cages was ADORABLE, perfect in every sense of the word and it also succeeded in breaking my heart, had me sobbing uncontrollably and then managed to put it together again. I’ve NEVER felt so much – I didn’t think it was possible to feel so much – for two foster brothers and their stories, but Robin Roe had me feeling it all. Let me make a list of things I LOVED about this book: 1. Julian: Julian was such an adorable little boy, and I connected with him in the very first chapter. He was… afraid to be who he was on the inside, afraid to be happy and be himself as if he was intentionally making himself less noticeable, and it broke my heart. My heart broke with the fact that he even had to deal with Russell and school, but he was a beautifully real character. 2. Adam: It took me a little longer to get used to Adam, mostly because he seemed like a ridiculously perfect person. He had only nice things to say about everyone, he could take and dish out jokes, had a great home life and the girl he liked obviously liked him back and so it took a while for me to warm up to the Golden Boy. I did, however, and MAN I LOVED THIS BOY. He was the sweetest to my adorable Julian, and a perfect friend and older brother and ACK. 3. THE FRIENDSHIPS: There were a lot of GREAT friendships between the wonderful characters in this book, between Adam and Charlie and the rest of Adam’s friends but most of all I loved the camaraderie and sibling-esque bond between Julian and Adam. Also, the one that developed between Charlie (Adam’s best friend) and Julian was pretty great, and I only wish we saw more of it. There was only one REAL thing that disappointed me in this book and it was the lack of Parental Supervision. I was SUPER PLEASED in the beginning because Adam’s mom WAS around, but all of a sudden there were sleepovers with Emerald and her BARELY being there was Julian *spoiler* was in the hospital and it just seems strange. I know some parents don’t like to smother children but parents disappearing in YOUNG ADULT books where the kids are still living at home and are dependent seems VAGUE? Like is it REALLY allowed to happen, or are parents conveniently erased from the storyline? A List of Cages is a mark above the rest it ALL aspects. A Beautiful, Heart-wrenching tale from a great new writer. 4 stars.
Caroles_Random_Life 4 months ago
This book was amazing. When I decided to read this book, I hadn't seen anything about it. The description looked compelling so I took a chance on it. I made a very good decision because this book ended up not only being one that I couldn't put down but one that I couldn't stop thinking about long after reading the final page. The story is both heartbreaking and hopeful with characters you want to spend as much time with as possible. This was an incredibly well told story. Adam is the kind of kid that seems to have everything going for him. He has a great relationship with his mother and a very good home life. He has a tight group of friends that he cares about. He is a senior in high school and he is doing great in school. Adam seems to know just the right thing to say and sometimes can even make things better by offering up a quick smile at just the right time. Adam does have to deal with his ADHD but he has things generally under control. Julian has had to deal with a lot in his life. His parents both died in a car crash when he was very young. He actually spent some time in the foster system and lived with Adam and his mother for a period of time. Julian moved in with his uncle years ago and as far as everyone knows everything is fine at home. But everything is not fine at home. Not by a lot. To make matters worse, Julian has no friends and is often teased and bullied at school. When Adam sees Julian at school and they reconnect, Julian is eager to be around someone that actually wants him around. This wasn't really an easy story to read. My heart broke so many times while I read this book. I felt like I was there with Julian every time somebody said something mean to him and I was there with him at his house with his uncle. I also felt Adam's uncertainty regarding what was the right thing to do. Adam's determination to be there for his friend no matter what was equally powerful. The truly sad part of this book is that these kind of stories aren't too different than what really happens to some teens. This book was wonderfully written. I honestly put the book down once to sleep and then picked it back up again and couldn't put it down until I was done. I loved the characters. Adam and Julian were wonderful but there was a whole cast of people in this book that each added something worthwhile to the story. Some scenes were intense and the way that they were written made them seem so incredibly real and vivid. I would highly recommend this book to others. I think that this is a book that needs to find its way into everyone's hands. I cannot remember the last time that I was as emotionally involved in a book as I was with this one. It was really that good. I received an advance reader edition of this book from Disney Book Group via NetGalley.
KikiD870 4 months ago
A List of Cages is beautifully written, telling the story of two boys whose lives have crossed once again. Their lives have intersected at times of pain and sorrow, but it is their unlikely friendship that changes both of their lives. This is a novel that will stick with you for a very long time, one that gives you all of the feels from the very first page. It is a sad yet beautiful story that really resonated with me. There were some moments as I read when I just felt like my heart would break. The story told was often not a happy one, but it is a powerful one and one that is all too real for too many people. Roe writes it with a brush of reality that makes the story that much more important and relevant. What I enjoyed most with the depth of the story. There was a variety of important issues woven into the story and those were presented with all of the rawness that is their reality. The value of family and friends. Dealing with ADHD. The reality of the foster system. The loss of family and loved ones. Child abuse. All of these things exist and I loved that the author didn't shy away from addressing the darker aspects of reality. This is a powerful and important read that I would recommend for everyone, young adults and adults alike.