By Carol Etzel
THE PERISCOPE (Carlisle, Pennsylvania)
A heart wrenching story of two young boys showing the harsh realities of mental illness and abusive households, A List of Cages by Robin Roe touches the hearts of every reader.
Adam Blake is given a psychology internship with the high school counselor, and through this internship, he is reunited with his former foster brother Julian.
Although they are happy to be reunited, many things have changed since they parted ways.
When Julian is hesitant to open up to him, Adam slowly introduces him into his life and helps him navigate the ways of high school. He quickly realizes there is much more going on behind Julian’s closed door.
Roe does a great job at making you care for the characters. This was one of the saving elements for the story.
Side characters such as Emerald and Charlie, Adam’s best friends, have compelling personalities but their storylines felt underdeveloped. Their background had potential, but they were only used as plot devices to further the main plot.
My heart ached for Julian and seeing the effects his life has on his health, both mental and physical, was painful to read.
With Roe’s background in counseling adolescents, she was able to beautifully develop Julian and Adam’s characters and represent the mental illnesses they have.
As one of the first published young adult novels of 2017, I went into reading with high hopes.
Although the story was well developed, I thought the ending fell short. It was quite sudden and I did not feel there was enough falling action after the storm to give the story an appropriate ending. I finished reading and felt a lack of closure.
The plot line was at times predictable. However, I did enjoy the alternating first person narration. Seeing the story from two different perspectives gave another layer of depth to the plot.
Despite its flaws, A List of Cages is a heart-breaking story about the realities of friendship and family.