First Released: 2017
Part of a Series?: No, this is a standalone novel.
Synopsis: “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.”
I initially picked up this book for the phenomenal rating it has on Goodreads. A List of Cages has a 4.29 out of 5 star average with over 18,000 votes. Usually, a book rated as such goes right on my list after grazing some of the reviews. I hadn’t heard of the author before, so I decided to give it a chance. As soon as I opened the cover, Robin Roe’s eloquent writing made me never want to put it down.
This is an emotional book; a harrowing story of friendship and abuse. (Kind of like the last book I recommended, We’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss; I suppose I have a type.) If you are also interested in these sad tales, please note that while both recommendations are tough books to read, this one will really get you.
This isn’t your typical friendship story about two boys that will do anything for each other; these boys are different. For one, there’s a four year age gap between them. And even though both perspectives are written in first person, Robin Roe created such diverse voices for Julian and Adam that you never question which character you’re reading. Adam is a high school senior with ADHD and Julian is a high school freshman struggling with dyslexia. This book highlights the difficulties children with learning disabilities face in the public school system, teachers don’t take kindly to their struggles with learning because their disabilities aren’t ‘visible’. There’s a feeling of invisibility the boys carry around with them that the reader can feel too. Together, the boys develop a bond as strong as brotherhood. Their love for each other is something you just can’t shake after closing this book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has or knows someone with a disability or learning disorder.