A List of Cages: The Final Stand Between Love and Hate

Image by Disney-Hyperion

The realistic fiction book A List of Cages by Robin Roe is a one-of-a-kind novel full of amazing detail and figurative language so powerful it will put you in the main character’s place. It’s about the struggles and horrible cruelties inflicted upon a young teenage boy in foster care. The main characters, Adam and Julien, show the importance of friendship and love/hate. While this book does handle heavy subjects like death and abuse, there is nothing else like it.

The story starts off with Adam and Julien meeting again at school. After Adam had fostered Julien before, he was ecstatic to see him, so he went to great effort to get closer. However, as Adam starts to push to get to know Julien better, he begins to notice things that seem a little off. Julien doesn’t want Adam to visit his house, where he lives with his uncle, Russell. And why does Julien feel so uncomfortable – almost paranoid – about getting changed in front of other people? Is there a reason Julien doesn’t like going home? Also, why on earth would Julien be having thoughts like this; “If I really had powers, I could turn off pain the way I can shut my eyes. But I can’t. I feel it. Skin doesn’t get thicker. Instead, it remembers.” As Adam and his friend group start to “adopt” Julien into their lives, their suspicion and curiosity grows more and more. Eventually, Adam witnesses the horrible truth of what goes on behind closed doors and windows. Julien’s odd behavior and strange tendencies start to explain themselves, and now there’s only one question on the group’s mind; how do they get him out of that house?

Even though A List of Cages deals with heavy topics, it also promotes positive messages. Lessons include helping others, seeing things not only at surface level, the gift that is life, and the power of kindness. This is demonstrated in the quote “I’m dizzy. I’m here. I’m alive.” and “Hate ricochets, but kindness does too.” In the end, one big question is asked of Julien: “What keeps you trapped?…What keeps you from living the life you want? What keeps you from being free?” This plays into the title; A List of Cages, and his answer is an insightful one that makes one ponder.

Overall, A List of Cages by Robin Roe is a spectacular book that deals with topics not meant for young children, but has great messages and inspires hope.. Whether it’s your kind of book or not, it’s a must-read, and you’re guaranteed not to be disappointed.

Sondrine Blusk, '21
Sondrine Blusk spends her time writing a variety of genres and mediums, from fiction books and short stories, to essays, to articles, as well as poems, depicting current day issues in society. These issues include social inequality, global warming, and economic/political/social problems in other, struggling countries. She started to explore her interest in both fiction and nonfiction writing (though mostly leaning towards fiction) in sixth grade, and she hasn’t turned back since, often submitting to writing contests and publications, including JD’s Rambunctious Literary Magazine and Scholastic Art & Writing Awards contest (she won a silver key). Sondrine lives with her mother, father, and two pets—a dog and cat—in a peaceful neighborhood in Dewitt, typing away on her laptop whenever she gets the chance.