A List of Cages

by Robin Roe

This is a very, very, very difficult book to read. There are quite disturbing (not graphic, but still disturbing) depictions of abuse in this book. And Roe makes you care, desperately for Julian, the boy who is being abused. And even worse…Roe makes you hope for him.

Adam Blake encounters the young boy who used to live in his home as a foster child after both parents are killed in an accident. Then, for years Julian disappeared into his uncle’s care…until now. Until the day Adam Blake, senior, is assigned by a school staff member to accompany Julian to therapy.

Adam is energetic, glaringly open, and unaware of how he bring positive energy to any room. Teachers, students…everyone likes him and he likes everyone. Because of this, Adam almost effortlessly brings strange, small, quiet, stunted Julian the freshmen under the wing of his band of friends.

But Julian has secrets…secrets that keep him out of school occasionally, and a desperate sadness from losing his parents so young.

I think the author meant for Julian’s story to be a kind of breaking of both Adam and Julian and creating emotional and character growth. Adam doesn’t so much experience growth as temporary sadness….he just jitters on even when confronted with unimaginable pain. It is Julian that we experience the most…Julian who must lose himself in fantastical thoughts and memories to survive his present reality…and it is Julian who grows enough that there is a scene, late in the book, where he is just sitting with one of Adam’s friends playing a video game–and you want to cheer because it is such a triumph.

Emotionally difficult but ultimately growth and healing-forward story of abuse.