a list of cages – robin roe | review + discussion


A List of Cages by Robin Roe
Published January 10th 2017 by Disney-Hyperion
Genre: contemporary, young adult, mental illness

links: Goodreads | *Book Depository – paperback/hardcover

rating: ★★★★★


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.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. 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…


my heart is so full.

I’m absolutely in love with A List of Cages!

The first half of the book slowly eases the reader into the situation and the characters while the other half grew darker and heavier. We learn about the hardships, pain and suffering experienced by Julian. Love, kindness and acceptance brought light. I loved reading in Julian’s perspective. I think he’s amazing.

A List of Cages is an extremely well-rounded book. The over-arching themes like foster care, child abuse, mental disorders, trauma were very well represented. Though I have never been through things like that, I could sympathise with Julian so much. It’s such a powerful book. I’m so glad I picked it up.

Throughout the book Adam was kind, genuine, lovable and generous. His character was what Julian needed the most. He could’ve had that years ago but circumstances didn’t let it happen which absolutely pained me.

Julian. He deserves so much more. He should have been showered with love. I want to protect him all the time. Keep him in my pocket so that I can show him the world. He’s so freaking precious!

Adam’s group of friends were such wonderful bunch of people. There were mixed feelings to the initial introduction of Julian – some were receiving and some were blatantly upset. However, I loved how they’re so loyal and bonded with each other. They’re a bunch of misfits who belonged together.

I can’t say this enough, but YOU NEED TO READ THE BOOK. It’s one of my favourite standalone now. I barely read any mental illness books last year and I regretted it so much. It was so awesome that A List of Cages became one of my favourite standalone novel. The book made me want to know more and read more mental illness books. I absolutely recommend everyone to read a list of cages.


“Seeing that particular look of fear cross a student’s face when I say I’m going to call home.” He lifts the phone to his ear.

DAFUQ, this principal needs to be fucking fired.

“It wasn’t groping. It was hugging. I needed the oxytocin.”

LOL. this emerald and adam thing is hilarious.

I was so pissed when I found out Russell is abusive. DAFUQ.

He shrugs as if having a lot of friends is no big deal at all.

aawww, sweet julian


He shook his head and began to cry, only I couldn’t really call it that.
It was convulsing.
It was dying.
It was the most pained noise I’ve ever heard another human being make. No one should be capable of that sort of agony and still live.

my heart can’t take this.

“Do you see how this would ruin your lives?”

wtf what is wrong with Ms Carlisle and like every other staff in this school is grumpy, messed up and horrible.


It’s strange how many ways there are to miss someone. You miss the things they did and who they were, but you also miss who you were to them. The way everything you said and did was beautiful or entertaining or important. How much you mattered.

this goes to the heart.

“I like this game.” I peek up, hoping I haven’t offended her.
She doesn’t look offended. Her smile is as big as Adam’s.


“Wait,” Julian says, his eyes just foggy slits as I throw a blanket on top of him. “You didn’t ask.”
“Ask what?” I say.
“How many. You didn’t ask how many.”
“Okay, how many?”
He smiles and closes his eyes. “Ten…thousand…stars.”

I love this so much. I love that he’s hanging out with them and opening up to them. You’re doing so good sweetie.

I can picture them looking at each other, smiling right into each other’s eyes. Hers were bright blue. His were faded green. Mine are both, and sometimes when I look in the mirror, I can see both of them looking back at me.

poor baby.

I’m grabbing my backpack when Kristin adds, “Unless you’re waiting for all your friends.”
“No…I’m not waiting for anyone.”
The three of them exchange a look, then Kristin smirks. “Yes, Julian. We know.”

can i punch this bitch in the throat? SHE’S A POOR EXCUSE OF A HUMAN BEING!

“But do you want to go?”
“Does that really matter?”
His question startles me for a minute. “Does what you want matter? Of course it matters.”

yes julian, you have bloody rights.

“… When I was little, I never wondered how I’d do it. I just knew one day I would go everywhere. But when you get older, you realize wanting isn’t the same as having. There are all those places you want to go, but it doesn’t mean you can actually get there.”

we find out that miss west’s kid passed away years ago when he was 12 and that changed her character. it’s tough to know that she told her child but the emotional abuse she does to her students, especially julian, is still unjustified in my eyes.


when julian said “i want you to be happy” to charlie and charlie softened. these cinnamon buns seriously.

emerald, charlie and adam went to talk to the teacher to reinstate julian back into the play. my heart.

The sick nervous feeling I had just a minute ago has disappeared. Instead I feel something warm spread through my body. People I love will be watching me. Their eyes like safety nets, I can’t fall.

the burst of confidence when julian talked back to russell filled my heart with so much hope, i got so emotional. but i became worried because of the consequences that will ensue immediately. at that point, it felt like russell’s breaking point.

god. the trunk scenes got me so messed up. my mind was sent to overdrive. the psychological trauma russell was doing on julian was so hard to read. i wanted to pull russell out of the book and punch him in the throat. he should rot in jail forever. fucking messed up. i’m devastated.


Julian would freakin hate it, but seeing my closest friends rush into the emergency-room lobby wearing pajamas or hastily-thrown-on, wrinkled clothes sends an unexpected burn to the back of my throat.


watching julian dwelling at the lowest point was horrible. he couldn’t eat, he’s consistently scared. but seeing the kindness and love the others have for him, i’m so heart warmed.

“But why can’t good things feel like forever? It was all so fast…before they left. I want to spin it back…slow it down. Why is time like that? Why does it slow down in the places you don’t want it to, but it speeds away when you’re happy?”

i know right.

The things I know stay in my head as I stand on my own two feet at the end of the day, and I walk back to my room with my journal to write my list of cages.


the ending part was a blur.

russell came, charlie and him rustled for the gun, the gun going off. my tears were brimming, i thought charlie was dead but it wasn’t. i was so relieved.


It’s dark when I stretch out on my back on the trampoline. Listening to the voices of all the people I love, I gaze up at a perfect night sky. It’s as if the lights strung through the trees have moved to float above us. Beautiful and too many to see all at once.
Ten million stars.



“Because people heal a whole lot faster when they’re with someone who loves them.”


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