‘A List of Cages’ – Robin Roe

A List of Cages

An incredibly moving – though somewhat hard to read – story of friendship and its power to heal.

Thanks to NetGalley and publishers Disney-Hyperion for granting me access to an advance copy of this hard-hitting book that focuses on the friendship between Adam, a popular senior, and Julian, a younger boy who does everything he can to keep himself apart from his peers.

The story is told from both Julian and Adam’s perspective, and I’ll admit that at first I found the book rather slow. We are gradually slipped details about how the two boys are linked, and little by little Roe reveals the extent of the abuse that Julian faces at the hands of his uncle Russell.

Throughout there was a real sense of discomfort as I read Julian’s narrative. Rightly so, as the level of abuse Julian experiences seemed so serious that I was amazed alarm bells hadn’t started ringing. It takes the reappearance of Adam – the foster brother he hasn’t seen for five years – to notice the changes in Julian and, as the boys’ friendship develops, Adam has to make some difficult decisions.

Sometimes we don’t make the right decisions. There was a point in the narrative when Adam allows his judgement to be swayed by the views of his friends. What follows does, sadly, seem inevitable but it leads to a dramatic climax to the story.

It was what came afterwards that interested me more. Learning to live with the events of this story – and coming to terms with the consequences of your actions – is a hard lesson to learn, and I liked the fact that Roe gave us a faint glimmer of hope that the friendship between Adam and Julian was strong enough to overcome the events they had survived.