Adam is ecstatic to be reunited with his foster brother Julian through an aide program at his school. 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.
Julian lives with his uncle and his life is very simple – school, trying to avoid the school psychologist, reading his favorite children’s books and enduring the occasional punishment when his uncle is not pleased with him. The punishment takes place in their home behind closed doors and they have developed a routine over the years where his uncle leaves him money the next day and Julian stays home from school “sick”, so no one will ask questions about bruises or Julian whining at every touch.
We go through the story changing between Adam’s and Julian’s point of view and its a great way for readers to get more details along the way. We learn more about how Adam’s ADHD affect his daily life and how Julian is starting to build some self-esteem with the help of Adam and his friends. But as the two boys grow closer and their friendship deepens, Julian’s newfound courage results in more punishment from his uncle (both physically and mentally) which escalates into a horrible situation and Adam risking his own life to save Julian.
There’s an underlying “bad feeling” throughout the book and Roe has captured the loaded atmosphere incredibly well. A List of Cages is definitely a read that will stay with me for some time! Intense, sad, beautiful and inspiring. I’ve been reading some brilliant mental health books lately and I want to give a huge amount of credit to authors who can portray such delicate topics well.