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A List of Cages

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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 kindhearted. 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…

310 pages, Hardcover

First published January 10, 2017

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About the author

Robin Roe

2 books864 followers
Robin Roe is the author of A LIST OF CAGES, named one of the Best YA Books of the Year by Buzzfeed, EpicReads, Goodreads & more.

Her new novel DARK ROOM ETIQUETTE is out now!


“Intense and visceral… an unforgettable story about trauma, resilience, and hope.” — Kathleen Glasgow, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Pieces

“Haunting, beautiful, and impossible to put down, Dark Room Etiquette is nothing short of a masterpiece.” — Amber Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Way I Used to Be

“Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!” — Andrew Smith, author of the Printz Honor Book Grasshopper Jungle

“I burned through the pages of Dark Room Etiquette—riveted, transfixed, and deeply moved by Sayers’ journey and Roe’s stunning prose.” — Jennifer Niven, #1 New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places

“With Dark Room Etiquette, Robin Roe has surely cemented herself as one of the most compelling and honest YA writers of our time.” — John Corey Whaley, Printz winning author of Where Things Come Back

“An impressive and soul-stirring read.” — Jay Coles, author of the critically-acclaimed Tyler Johnson Was Here

“Harrowing, enthralling, and ultimately hopeful.” — Jeff Zentner, Morris Award winning author of The Serpent King

“A tense, raw, stunningly written tale of trauma, survival, and healing.” — Liz Lawson, author of The Lucky Ones

"A stunning achievement in psychological terror. I couldn't look away." — Gretchen McNeil, author of Ten and #murdertrending

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5 stars
11,759 (47%)
4 stars
8,911 (35%)
3 stars
3,192 (12%)
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1 star
202 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,817 reviews
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews176k followers
February 6, 2017
wow. this book has one big emotional punch. it's gonna take me a few days to recover. i went into this book not knowing anything about it & i instantly added it to my list of favorite books when i finished it.
Profile Image for chai ♡.
322 reviews156k followers
June 20, 2020
I don’t know how a book can splinter in my mind with a haze of pain around it, make tears spring unbidden to my eyes and generally feel as though I was seeing into a bottomless well of anguish, but then, right when I thought the flint shell of my heart would crack, it hits me with a keen pang of hope and sets like a little ball of tingling warmth in the pit of my stomach.

A List of Cages is a beautiful, soul-crushing love letter to friendships that heal the broken pathways of your heart and hope that can’t be washed away by the torrent of despair, to the pain we survive in youth and to the courage it takes to will your fragments into finding a way to mesh back together into a single person. It’s a reminder that we are better than the worst things that we’ve been made to endure. But mostly, this book was a sigh of relief at the knowledge that kindness can exist in this world, and the mournful remorse of kindness existing in a world that doesn’t really deserve it.

After the death of his parents in a tragic accident, Julian Harlow’s life had smashed and spilled him tumbling away from the loving foster home of Adam Blake and his mother into the brutal guardianship of his uncle. Five years later, Adam—a senior—is assigned the duty of escorting a freshman to the counseling sessions he persists in skipping. The freshman is none other than his former foster brother, Julian.

Adam is thrilled to be reunited with his friend, but the years have remade Julian into a shadow version of himself and no matter how much Adam tried to root through what was hidden in the labyrinth of Julian’s memories, his burden was to feel all the pain of Julian’s unspoken torment, and not know how to help him. But while Adam was thinking of Julian’s bruises and frequent absences and his uncle’s house that conjured no feeling of “home”, another thought tiptoed between them. It was sly, odious and unnameable, and it waited to be noticed...

In this book, we see the vast extent of damage abuse—both physical and emotional—inflicts on survivors. How weary one’s chest becomes from carrying all the repeated hope and disappointment and how so used they become to every-day life being painful that they begin to doubt any path that doesn’t come with agony. We see how abusers learn to masquerade as things that wouldn’t seem threatening to get close enough to strike and how oftentimes they’re the same people who are supposed to protect you from the ravages of the world but instead wrap their manipulations in the chain of the security and sense of self-worth which they claim to offer you.

But nothing broke my heart more than how quick everyone—his classmates, his teachers, his principle—was to fill Julian’s silences with their own interpretation: He was depressed. He was awkward. He was weird. He was stuck up. He was judgmental. They couldn’t read him so they wrote their own story, and they didn’t care enough to see into the pain that traced along each one of his unspoken scars. They were all continuously watching this massive, looming thing over Julian’s life to which they were supposed to promptly apply the adjective dangerous and immediately act. But they didn’t—not until it was too late anyway. And the fact that Robin Roe herself is a counselor and a mentor for at-risk teenagers who must have encountered many cases like this in real life still nudges at the dark of my thoughts.

A List of Cages was heart-breakingly hard to read, yes, but I’m grateful for the bedrock of love and affection that was always there, because the real story, ultimately, is in the relationships. This is a book that drips with love and approaches its characters with a whole-hearted delight in their differences, similarities, and connections—Adam’s utter, unflinching aura of love that was all around him and Julian’s jangling, nerve-racking, mind-screaming strength.

Julian and Adam’s friendship made me cry. That friendship was the moon, the gentle glow that illuminated the darkness around Julian. It made it easier to see the path stretching before him, and Julian stumbled less in its light, and found himself looking up at it in awe. It’s that friendship and it's that kindness that eventually uncovers the border between hope and despair that had become lost in the fear.

I think the greatest takeaway from this book is that maybe there’s not much any of us can do: you’re small and weak and helpless and you can be so clumsy with words when words mean so much. But you know you can be kind. And sometimes, I believe, that changes the world. Or just someone's world. So please, please, if anything, just be kind.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: violence, emotional and physical abuse.

Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
February 14, 2017
What an incredible, heart achingly beautiful story. This book surprised me by how engrossed I was. I cared for the characters immensely. I was sent this for review/ to do a sponsored video surrounding it by Disney Hyperion (thank you to them!) so stay tuned for a review and that video coming soon!!
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,537 reviews9,963 followers
February 7, 2017
OMG!!!! This book was so horrible and so wonderful at the same time!

I loved all of these characters with the exception of a few choice adults.

Julian's freaking uncle, Russell!

For him I wanted to add all of the hulk smash, blowing up, gun shooting gifs I could find but I kept it nice. You will hate his guts if you read this wonderful book and find out what all he puts Julian through. I CAN'T EVEN, PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The book is told through Julian and Adam. It's not confusing just their different thoughts as they are the main characters. When Julian was young he lived with Adam for awhile until the evil uncle claimed him. Adam's mom tried to keep him but, you know how that goes.

Anyway, they are in high school together. Adam is about to graduate and go on to college with his friends. Julian is younger and just getting by in school.

I really loved Adam's friends too. All of the main ones were super nice. Charlie with his anger issues was my favorite but when you read him, you will know what I mean. And when they all took Julian in as a friend and were so nice to him (even the ones that acted like a butt to him at first) it made me feel all mushy inside. It was so sweet! ❤

It was nice to read a book about good kids for once and not all of the bullies. The bullies in the book were some adults.

That's all really. I loved it so much and the end had me holding my breath! I got this book from the library overdrive but I hope to buy it in a few weeks. This is one I want to go on my shelves to read again and again.

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,616 reviews10.7k followers
April 13, 2023

My heart.

While I understand this is not a perfect book, for me, it opened my eyes to the world of hard-hitting YA Contemporary writing, and for that, I will always be grateful.

I knew that I would struggle trying to write an adequate review of this book.

I just cannot express the way I feel about this one.

It was quite honestly one of, if not the most, moving story I have ever read. Amazingly well done and I feel it should be required reading.

The story follows two characters, Julian and Adam.

Julian, the younger of the two, lost his parents to an accident when he was just a child. Due to a lack of any other immediate family, young Julian, is forced into 'the system'.

Adam's Mother, a social worker, ends up taking him in as a foster child and thus, the boys essentially become brothers for a time.

Unexpectedly, a distant relation (by marriage) of Julian's comes forward and claims him and he moves into a new home and a new life, having no further contact with Adam until high school. This is where our story picks up.

These characters are so well drawn. Julian, so sweet, innocent and trapped in his loss.

Adam, fun, popular and extremely caring brings humor and understanding to the narrative.

I love the relationship between the two boys and how it evolves over the course of the book. While annotating, I tabbed so many sections, passages and sentences as there are a lot of very important ideas and issued tackled.

I feel like Robin Roe's real life experiences working with 'at-risk' teens helped add to the realistic feel of this novel. This will be a hard one to forget.

Nothing short of heartbreaking.

Honestly, I was shattered after reading this but also felt filled with love and hope. I ended up feeling such a strong connections to these boys; I really became attached in a way I don't think I have experienced before.

This book teaches a message of kindness and empathy. Be kind to all, as you can never truly know what someone else is going through; what someone's reality is and your kindness may be the only they receive that day. Seriously. I know that sounds lame but I honestly believe that.

I will be recommending this book to everyone in the world from this day forward. I caution readers that you shouldn't expect a light fluffy read here.

There are definitely moments of humor, Adam's character in particular is very funny, but this book deals with very serious issues of abuse, both mental and physical, death, grief, loss, self worth and self preservation.

Absolutely brilliant!

Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.7k followers
August 22, 2018
every once in awhile i am truly blown away by a story. i will read something that exceeds all of my expectations and more. the book will cause me feel a range of emotions that i didnt expect to experience. its a story that burrows itself deep into my heart. it doesnt happen often, but when it does, im left astounded. like i am this very moment.

this was very heavy for a YA contemporary novel, but i am so thankful for that. it shows that really tough things happen to young people. it shows that every person is able to make a difference. it shows that even the most difficult of times can lead to something better. i love this book for showing that. its a heartbreaking story, but it is also a story beautiful story of love and hope.

this is the kind of book that leaves the reader better than it found it, and for that, i am truly grateful and humbled.

4.5 stars
757 reviews2,350 followers
August 6, 2017
Honestly, don't touch me right now because MY EYES ARE A SWEATY MESS AND I DON'T EVEN CARE IF THAT SOUNDS EXTREMELY GROSS. I knew this book was going to be an emotional punch in the gut because everyone has been crying and raving about this. This book was heartbreaking from page one because my little Julian.

If you don't know already, I love sad, depressing, and heartbreaking books because I just love the suffering and pain sad books bring. But what I love most about "sad, depressing, and heartbreaking" books is that stay with me for a long long time. I love how they aren't happy fairy tales, but the ugly and harsh truth about our world. This book is one of those kinds of books. And I strongly recommend you pick it up and read it.

! Spoilers ahead?? !


A List of Cages is about two teenagers, Julian and Adam who were once foster brothers, but then Julian is taken into custody by an uncle he never knew he had. Ever since, his life is a living fucking hell. Julian's beaten, whipped, isolated and terrified of everything. It was absolutely horrible and heartbreaking to read about this innocent fourteen year old boy being treated like this.

Julian is one of the most sweetest, innocent, and forgiving characters ever. He's one of those people I would like to hug and feed vanilla ice cream with sprinkles on top to everyday !!!! Julian has been through so much a kid his age or anyone's age shouldn't have to go through AT ALL. And reading about his life made me cry so much because no one deserves what he went through. I loved him.

Adam is such an amazing character as well. He was so friendly and lovable towards Julian. He's so caring, lovable, and kind towards everyone. (Except for Julian's asshole uncle which I totally understand.) Also, his ADHD was dealt with absolutely brilliantly. Though I enjoyed reading from his POV, I looked forward to Julians' POV's more.

We seriously need more positive sibling relationships in YA books. The one in this book is one of the freaking best EVER. Like, I'm seriously crying over Adam and Julian's relationship. They love and care for each other so much and they are always there for each other. It's just so beautiful, my God.

Overall, if you're still having doubts about reading this, hit me up and I'll be there to throw this book in your face.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,514 reviews29.5k followers
December 1, 2016
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

This book is at times harrowing and heartbreaking, at times hopeful. But what adds to this book's power is the fact that its plot isn't fantasy, and there are children dealing with these issues every day.

Life changed for Julian five years ago when his beloved parents died. He lived with a foster family until a relative took him in. He misses his parents every day, and this loss truly encompasses him, because they understood him, they supported his creativity, and made life fun.

"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 to them. The way everything you said and did was beautiful or entertaining or important. How much you mattered."

Now a high school freshman, life couldn't be further from fun. Julian has a number of learning disabilities, including dyslexia, which make school absolute hell for him, and his teachers don't care enough to find out what his problems are, they just berate him, fail him, and send him to the principal. His fellow students ridicule him as well. And he constantly feels as if he is living on eggshells at home, where one wrong step could spell disaster.

One day, Julian is shocked to encounter Adam, who was once his foster brother. Adam, a high school senior assigned to help the school psychologist track down Julian for his appointments (which he always conveniently misses), is excited to see Julian again. He remembers many of the things Julian enjoyed when he was younger, and does everything he can to integrate Julian into his wide circle of friends, despite the difference in their ages, and despite Julian's efforts to try not to call attention to himself.

Adam, who tries valiantly to keep his own ADHD in check (not always successfully), is dealing with his own issues, including a crush on a long-time friend, and his best friend Charlie's unhappiness. But he wants Julian to be a part of his life, and he wants to understand what is happening to him—why is he absent without warning for a few days, why is no one allowed over to his house, why would this relative that took Julian in all those years ago not pay for clothes that fit him?

"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."

Things come to a head when Adam starts suspecting things are worse for Julian than he lets on, and Julian tries desperately to keep his friend from finding out the truth. Adam's quest to rescue his friend could wind up seriously endangering both of their lives.

A List of Cages is a sad story that is all too commonplace. Julian is a tremendously special character whose hurt and pain reminded me a tiny bit of Jude's in A Little Life , although the books are vastly different. I enjoyed Adam's character, too, as well as those of his friends and even his mother. I never felt that these kids were more erudite than they should be, which happens all too often in young adult novels.

While the plot isn't necessarily surprising (perhaps we've sadly all become a little too familiar with instances like these), Robin Roe pulls you in to Julian and Adam's stories, makes you care, and makes you feel in the process. I could have done without the one melodramatic plot point, but beyond that, this story gripped me from start to finish. It's hard to read at times because it is so harrowing, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I hope this book finds a wide audience because of its subject matter, but also because Roe's storytelling ability is so powerful. I'm glad I had the opportunity to read it.

NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Warda.
1,209 reviews19.7k followers
February 17, 2020
I’m numb. Mainly due to the part that I almost had to numb my feelings because of the injustice, the anger and the trauma that all takes part in this story. Partially numbing myself was the only way I could get through this story. The only way I was able to read so consistently, because once I started it, I latched on to the story. Or the story latched on to me.

It’s heartbreaking. Heart-wrenching.
Trigger warnings for psychological, physical and emotional abuse.

It was perfectly paired with goodness though. As bleak as this story was, goodness was present in these pages, in Adam and his mother. His friends. That love and understanding and stories are what carry pain away and allow you to see light.
Profile Image for Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen).
425 reviews1,642 followers
December 5, 2018
2.5 Stars

“Hate ricochets, but kindness does too.”

This is a book that says some beautiful, important things, but uses an exploitive, painful abuse storyline to do so.

…okay. Bear with me. I know that’s a big statement, and I know the majority disagrees with me. But the whole time I read this… I just felt unsettled? The overwhelming focus is on the physical manifestations of abuse and very little on any healing? Sure, the narrative mentions healing, but the plot is just one horrible, horrible abuse after another, and as soon as the abuse stops there’s just a rushed-haphazard ending—like there was nothing left to resolve or discuss?

This also felt apparent in the way every single adult was a horrible archetype. Whether it was Julian’s monster of an uncle, numerous dimwitted and mean school teachers or Adam’s nice, but completely oblivious mother… none of the adults were helpful. It continued to amp up the drama of the situation and create another kids-don’t-trust-adults-or-ask-for-help story.

It’s not that this book was poorly written… it wasn’t! It features some great ADHD representation in a likeable, extroverted narrator as well as Julian-the-precious-cinnamon-roll. I loved that the focus was on friendship/brotherhood, compared to the ever-popular romance. The romance that was present was cute, and featured a brief, but important discussion of consent and sex positivity.

I couldn’t move past the main, brutal storyline and how it used an abuse victim just for the shock factor.
Maybe it's just me. Maybe I just never connected with the story. Maybe I missed something. Maybe I'm dead inside.
Profile Image for Korrina  (OwlCrate).
193 reviews4,560 followers
January 6, 2017
I may have already found my top book of 2017, because I don't know how something will top this. So sad I didn't read this in time to include it in an OwlCrate box. It comes out on January 10th and I highly encourage everyone to pick it up!
Profile Image for Ikram.
211 reviews1,280 followers
February 10, 2017

Out today!

(I received a free arc from Netgally in exchange for an honest review. This book comes out in January 2017.)

"I used to think that if I concentrated, I could make myself disappear. I don't believe that anymore, but sometimes I still have to try."

Trigger warning:

Holy guacamole.

I think I've just been eaten by a giant blob of feels. This was one of easiest five stars I've given so far this year. This book is definitely the next big thing. Like the next TFIOS or The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

This is a list of what I liked about this book: (See what I did there? A list? Anyone? Okay.)

Mental Health: I'm not sure why but I have a soft spot for books that deal with mental Health issues. Not all illnesses are visible after all, but it's important to keep in mind that mental illnesses are just as severe as physical ones. This book deals with a main character that suffers from ADHD which was extremely interesting since I've never read any book that mentioned this condition before.

The writing Style: I found myself rereading some sentences over and over again just because they were written in such a beautiful way you can't help but want to memorise them.
"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."

Julian: Julian is one of those characters you just want to hug. For the rest of your life.

He's been through so much but he kept his soul intact. One of the sweetest characters I've ever read about.

The tears! Usually, it's a good sign when a book succeeds at making me cry so bonus points for you Robin Roe!

Overall, a very powerful read. I loved every page of this book and I would highly recommended to pretty much everyone.

Thanks for reading. Please share your thoughts.

Profile Image for Fares.
246 reviews314 followers
July 24, 2019
It was a mistake to listen to this audiobook at a wedding.
Well not the actual wedding but the preparations for it, either way holding tears so relatives don't see you cry is the worst!
Profile Image for Irena BookDustMagic.
635 reviews576 followers
August 21, 2020
A List of Cages is not a book that grabs your attention immediately.
At least, it was not in my case.
I saw it’s cover on Netgalley, but didn’t pay much attention to it until I got an invitation to review it.
That invitation made me read what this story is actually about, and, since it sounded interesting and like something that could possibly make me learn something new, I decided to give it a try.
I am so glad I did! This book ended up as one of the best books I read in 2016, because of the powerful message it brings.

The story centres around two boys: Adam and Julian. It is told in first person, from both boys’ POV.

I loved how author managed for both voices to sound differently, which is very important for me when it comes to alternating perspectives.
I enjoyed reading both point of views, but I have to admit that Adam’s was more enjoyable for me, because Julien’s was sometimes too hard to read (emotinally).

That’s why I question whether the word “enjoyed” is the right one to use. This book was great, even perfect at some point, but it was also very, very hard at times.
Some situations in this story were emotinally draining.
Robin Roe is not afraid to tell the story in realistic way. There’s no sugarcoating.
The violence is described in a way that it is not too descriptive, but shows you enough to make your eyes tear up.

This is a work of fiction, but I honestly believe that similar cases to Julien’s are happening right now in the world we live in (I still remember one episode of Oprah Show that I watched when I was a kid, with three brothers with similar fate as Julien’s).
Therefore, A List of Cages is so important! I think people of all ages should read it, and after they do, they should talk about it, talk about what happened in this story and make others read it too.

This book tells us how important it is to find our voice and talk. And for those who can’t, we have to help them find their voices, encourage them in a way we can, and never stop talking.
There are so many awful things going on in the world right now, and raising our voices is one way we can at least try to make things better.

Although A List of Cages is a novel that talks about serious topic, it also shows life of teenagers in a realistic way.
There are funny scenes and everyday life moments.
Parties, chrushes and bonding also found their places on pages.
Because of that aspect, this novel reminded me of The Perks of Being a Wallflower (the movie, I still haven’t read the book. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is my all-time favorite movie. Ever!).

Robin Roe did an amazing job when it comes to characterization.
Her focus was not only on Adam and Julien who are “stars” of the story, but she also created side characters who weren’t only interesting, but also went through development as well.
My favorite character was Charlie. I loved his story and enjoyed reading about him.

The writing style is really good.
Once you start reading, it’s hard to stop, and it reads quickly.

If my Nook didn’t chrash in the middle of reading, I would probably finish it even faster then I did.

Overall, A List of Cages is a book that should find itself on everyone’s tbr lists.
I know that there’s still no book that everyone likes, but in this case, I really think that many people should at least give it a try.

Note: I got this book via Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review. Thank you Disney-hyperion.

Read this and more reviews on my blog: https://bookdustmagic.com
Profile Image for *TANYA*.
1,002 reviews313 followers
July 19, 2017
An EXTREMELY emotional book. I cried like a baby, sobbed. Unfathomable what was endured. I NEED a follow up to this book, ten years from now, what happens, how are they coping as adults???
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,838 followers
April 26, 2017
Warning: Only read this book if you’re prepared for intense feelings of pain, anguish, and some awesomesauce friendship/brotherhood.

From the reviews I’ve read from my friends, I knew this book would be heartbreaking, but I didn’t expect it to be the rip-your-heart-out-of-your-chest-and-stomp-on-it-until-it-desingrates type of heartbreak.

. . . turns out it was.


The chapters switch alternatively between Julian ((my baby))’s perspective and Adam ((my baby)’s perspective. Julian needs to be protected at all costs and everyone needs an Adam Blake in their life. Honestly, he’s literally the most sweetest, caring, older-brother-figure, my heart is tearing up again.

The writing is honestly SO easy to get into and the fact that the chapters are hella short make the pace steady and attention grabbing.

There are many things in this book that will make you feel incredibly uneasy ((again, protect baby Julian)) but I think that just adds more to the pain of the book.

Lots of tears will be shed, did i mention that???? :)))))

Also, the mental health ((regarding Adam)) was dealt with BRILLIANTLY. Honestly, it was objective and honest and not in any way degrading.

I genuinely love this book.

Okay, if I start talking about anything else, I’m gonna end up spewing my feels and exposing MASSIVE **spoilers** and I’d rather not do that but just know that tears await you when you pick up this book.

“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 to them. The way everything you said and did was beautiful or entertaining or important. How much you mattered”

5 stars!!!


buddy reading with the ditcher™
Profile Image for Maureen.
574 reviews4,185 followers
July 16, 2017
4.5/5 stars

Do you ever finish a book and know you're going to be thinking about it for a long while after? That's how I feel about this book.
The sentiments are so powerful, as is the story. I love that it was mostly about friendship and helping people through that. I LOVED both of these characters so much, especially Adam. He was a picture of unconditional love to Julian and I literally just teared up thinking about it.
Everyone was very right about this book - it's amazing and wonderful and really really powerful. I liked it a whole lot.
Profile Image for tappkalina.
666 reviews414 followers
September 17, 2020
This easily could have been an episode of Criminal Minds.

The amount of child abuse was a lot even for me. I sobbed through half of the book, and I'm not an emotional person.
I guess what made this even more brutal is the fact that Julian actually thought he deserved it and that it's normal. Like ?? Baby, no!
And the scene with the trunk? That was when I lost it completely.

I really want to look inside his uncle's mind. Yes, I would have killed him myself if I could, but he seemed so sick and twisted, and that's the kind of mind that fascinates me. Because sometimes I actually felt his love for Julian (I don't know if that was a family-kind of love, simple ownership or some type of pedophilia), but at one point I was sure he will kill him.

So, just know it's really not a fun read.
Profile Image for Sara (sarawithoutanH).
512 reviews3,475 followers
February 6, 2017
First and foremost, I loved the message of this book. It’s not often that you find a YA book that primarily highlights the meaning of friendship and kindness. It was refreshing to read a book that didn’t focus on romance. I absolutely loved Julian. He was an adorable cinnamon roll. The second half of this book is absolutely heartbreaking and I just wanted to give Julian a big hug.


My main critique with this book is the writing style. While there were some very meaningful and quotable excerpts, overall I thought the writing quality was inconsistent. It had a bit of a middle grade vibe and I just tend to be someone who doesn’t enjoy that. I thought the two main characters were developed, but the side characters lacked depth and felt like rough sketches of people. For some reason almost every single adult character was extremely terrible and unhelpful to the main characters. While I do understand that not every adult has the ability to deal with troubled kids, it felt a bit unrealistic that almost every teacher or police officer that they encountered would be *that* mean.

But with those criticisms aside, I think the strength of this book is its message. I think this is an important book for younger readers. I think I would have really enjoyed it when I was in high school. Julian and Adam’s narrative is one that I think can have a positive impact on readers. I think Roe covers mental health and child abuse in a very important way. It’s a very sweet and special read.

I was sent an ARC of this book by Disney Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Arna.
161 reviews262 followers
January 16, 2021
This book shook me! The best YA novel I have ever read. 👏🏼😭
Adam is serving as an aide to the school psychologist in his senior year and is looking forward to a period sitting around texting his friends. One day she asks him to go find a freshman who keeps dodging his appointments, Adam discovers that the boy is Julian, the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years and is ecstatic to see him again until he realises Julian is keeping secrets he can’t share with anyone...✨
To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for some reason and I almost returned it to the library without reading it and I am so glad I didn’t! This book broke my heart 😭💔 I had tears in my eyes reading multiple parts and that NEVER happens to me.
Adam and Julian’s friendship is so beautiful. Adam as a person is so beautiful and it was so good to see a main character with ADHD shine so bright.
Though this book has heavy subject matter for a YA, I think it has so much value. Whether you’re a YA fan or not, you need to read this book! 👏🏼👏🏼
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,051 reviews1,050 followers
April 13, 2018

An unexpected heartbreaking and yet inspiring read. A List of Cages is a story of an unusual friendship between an ADHD diagnosed senior superstar ( Adam) and a dyslexic freshman “nobody” (Julian). The story is told in their alternating perspectives and both their voices seem very genuine.

While Julian is timid and easily intimidated being a victim of domestic abuse, Adam is everybody’s darling. While nobody seems to like or care about Julian, everybody loves Adam which he doesn’t seem to notice because he’s just genuinely kind to everybody.

Fate must have decided to meddle with both their lives because Adam is exactly what Julian needs, someone who will see him when nobody couldn’t and through Adam, Julian finally gets to experience what it means to have friends and people (Charlie, Emerald and the rest of Adam’s gang including his mom) who care even though they’re not related to him by blood. Adam who even though is no Superman or Spiderman is definitely a hero in this story. This book is a beautiful reminder of how a small act of kindness could begin to change a person’s life.

”Hate ricochets but kindness does too.”
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
720 reviews1,118 followers
Shelved as 'own-tbr'
June 16, 2020
Another online order because I have no self control 😊😊😊😊😊
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,744 reviews1,306 followers
January 8, 2017
(I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to Disney Book Group and NetGalley.)

This was a YA contemporary story, about a boy with ADHD and his younger friend.

Adam cared for Julian in this story, and he certainly went above and beyond to try to keep him safe and to work out what was going on with him.

The storyline in this was about Julian being abused, and Adam trying to help him. The pace in this was pretty slow though, and I struggled to keep reading because I was so bored. Things did improve a bit towards the end, and I did feel sorry for Julian, and, yes this book was about an important subject, but I’d have appreciated it more if it had kept my interest a bit better.

The ending to this was okay, and things seemed to work out pretty well in the end.

6 out of 10
Profile Image for Colleen Scidmore.
386 reviews155 followers
October 24, 2022

Actual Stars 4.5

“What keeps you trapped? What keeps you from living the life you want? What keeps you from being free? And I see it all at once—all the things that have kept me trapped.
Afraid of talking.
Afraid of trying.
Afraid of wanting.
Afraid of dreaming.
Thinking about the people I’ve lost—and afraid of losing more.”

I loved A List of Cages! It was such an amazingly well written book. But it is not the kind of book you would read if you’re looking for uncomplicated fluff because the subject matter is HEAVY. I don’t want to ruin anything for anybody but there needs to a trigger warning about child abuse. It’s not even over the top explicit but it is just disturbing.

Adam is a fun loving always got a smile on his face high school senior. He is the kind of guy everyone loves, students and teachers alike. He is insanely energetic partly because he has ADHD, but his mom also a social worker, has helped him manage it with natural remedies when traditional medicine was doing more harm than good. The only one that seems a bit immune to Adam’s charm is Julian, a freshman attending the same school, at least in the beginning. Julian in fact stayed with Adam and his mother as a child when his parents first died. That is until Russell, an uncle by marriage, came out of the woodwork and moved Julian in with him. That is the last contact Julian had with his foster brother and mother thanks to Russell.

Adam reignites a relationship with Julian after getting one of the easiest classes for his last year in high school. Being the school psychologist’s student aide. There isn’t really anything to do and he spends most of his time texting all his friends, having a kick back period. That is until Dr. Whitlock tasks him to escort a wandering Julian from class to her office for their weekly sessions.

Adam gets to know Julian once again and sees the kind boy, who has a talent for writing stories and still loves to read Elian Mariner, much younger age group books, that he used to know. But Adam also sees another frightened and guarded side that Julian tends to hide. He’s absent from school on rotation and Adam wonders how any kid can be that sickly. He starts to think about the time he went to visit Julian and ran into Russell, remembering the large aggressive man that good natured Adam took an instant dislike to. Adam is determined to get to the bottom of Julian’s secretive behavior even though it might just be more dangerous than what he thought was ever possible.

This book was amazing and emotional. Robin Row is a very gifted author that totally immersed me into Adam and Julian’s lives through all the ups and downs. They were not just characters on a paper. They were real and alive flesh and bone breathing boys to me. I cried so much, clenched my jaw, cringed about a million times, held my breath and cussed up a storm in my head (and out loud) so many times while listening to this incredible book. So yes it is hard to read. But on the flip side both the boys are so wonderful they just melted my heart.

The character that surprised me the most though was Charlie. I did not like him at all in the beginning. He was a severely cranky teen who had a oversized chip on his shoulder. He had a huge grudge against Julian because Adam was paying more attention to him. But wow…did he ever redeem himself towards the end! 🥰

Reading A List of Cages renewed my hope for YA. I feel like so many in the genre are cookie cutter books now. Same story insert politically correct scenario or character. And don’t get me wrong I love that YA is trying to be diverse, should have happened a long time ago tbh. But I want creativity and imagination as well, that’s what I feel a lot of them are lacking. This is an older book published in 2017, but it still renews my hope that there will be more great YA stories to tell.
Profile Image for Heike.
57 reviews28 followers
September 8, 2017
A wonderful story, heartbreaking that teaches you the power of kindness and friendship just heartwarming... BEAUTIFUL.
Its better get into the story with knowing nothing about it but...
Well, the two main characters are Julian a 14 year old kid that have Dyslexia and Adam a 18 year old senior who has ADHD.
Julian is shy, always frightened, kind of broken, he's afraid of everything( of talking, moving, Spider-Man movies EVERYTHING) he's in freshmen year of high school but every classmate makes fun of him because he acts like a child and loves to read Elian Mariner's books (books that are meant for kids) maybe it is because his childhood was the best part of his life until his Parents died.
" 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 to them. The way everything you said and did was beautiful or entertaining or important. How much you mattered".

Sad don't you think? Well gets worse

Adam like I said is in senior year he's popular not quite handsome or the stereotype of popular you may think he is, he is just only the most kind person in the school everyone likes him and have a very good bunch of friends everyone would've like to had they are loyal and funny.
All started when Adam become a counselor aide and he was assigned to "escort" Julian to his sessions with the Dr. Because he always managed to skipped it.
""Okay, how many?"
He smiles and closes his eyes

Julian's uncle Russell is a BASTARD a HUGE ASSHOLE I really really hate him, you'd know when you read it.
" He doesn't care if you cry, but you can't fight. A sound fill the air, then pain so sharp, you feel sick, slash after slash, cutting and deep, one on top of the other. They don't stop until you're screaming into your palms" .

This book really broke my heart and restored it and broke it again.
Life saving, heartwarming.
" The things I know stay in my head as I stand on my own two feet at the end of the day, and I walk back to my room with my journal to write my list of cages".
Profile Image for ambsreads.
656 reviews1,393 followers
February 7, 2017
"People heal a whole lot faster when they're with someone who loves them."

A List of Cages will be the most emotional book I read this year, I feel. It was painful. It was so damn good that I couldn't put it down. If you know me, you know I go to bed before 10pm every night without fail, I'll usually stop talking to you at 8:30pm as well. However, I was up until midnight finishing this book and crying into my pillow.

I've thought about this book for a week and I still can't possibly formulate a review that properly articulates my feelings for this book so, have some gifs:









So many emotions still. READ THIS BOOK.
Profile Image for Emma.
59 reviews2,303 followers
July 27, 2017
The beginning of this book I loved really and truly. The entire ending I had huge, giant problems with. The biggest one being that for the level of abuse and trauma that occurred- and it was major, probably the worst I've ever read- there's no way to write light into this story. For me (emphasis on personal opinion), it ended without an ending. The recovery from everything Julian went through would be in a way harder than the events, and we didn't get to see his recovery... hardly at all. There were moments that felt really joyful and full of love, but not after the first half. And I don't like to leave a book feeling energetically low.
Profile Image for grace.
130 reviews1,588 followers
December 1, 2016
EMOTIONS HOLY HECK. Video review to come!
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