Cover image for Insignificant events in the life of a cactus
Title:
Insignificant events in the life of a cactus
ISBN:
9781454923459
Physical Description:
262 pages ; 21 cm
Series:
Reading Level:
700 L Lexile
Summary:
New friends and a mystery help Aven, thirteen, adjust to middle school and life at a dying western theme park in a new state, where her being born armless presents many challenges.
Holds:

Available:*

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Summary

Summary

"Aven is a perky, hilarious, and inspiring protagonist whose attitude and humor will linger even after the last page has turned." -- School Library Journal (Starred review)

Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves with them across the country knowing that she'll have to answer the question over and over again.

Her new life takes an unexpected turn when she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined. It's hard to solve a mystery, help a friend, and face your worst fears. But Aven's about to discover she can do it all . . . even without arms.

Autumn 2017 Kids' Indie Next Pick
Junior Library Guild Selection
Library of Congress's 52 Great Reads List 2018


Author Notes

Dusti Bowling grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, where, as her family will tell you, she always had her nose in a book. Dusti holds a Bachelor of Psychology and a Master of Education, but she eventually realized that her true passion was writing. The Day We Met , her self-published YA novel, has sold over 20,000 copies. She currently lives in Carefree, Arizona, with her husband, three daughters, one bobcat, a pack of coyotes, a couple of chuckwallas, several rattlesnakes, and a few herds of javelina.


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Thirteen-year-old Aven Green, the heroine of Bowling's sensitive and funny novel, was born without arms due to a rare genetic condition. When her adoptive parents take jobs at an Arizona theme park, Aven leaves behind her comfortable social life, starting over with new peers and teachers to stare at her. After days of self-consciously eating her lunches in a bathroom stall at school (she eats with her feet), Aven opens up to two students: Connor, who has Tourette's syndrome, and Zion, who is teased for being overweight. Bowling, the author of three self-published YA novels, lets readers see Aven as a full, complex teenager-even while those around her have trouble doing so-and gives her a sharp sense of humor, including a penchant for inventing gruesome stories about how she lost her arms. Bowling's novel demonstrates how negotiating others' discomfort can be one of the most challenging aspects of having a physical difference and how friendship can mitigate that discomfort. A major revelation that leads to a somewhat-too-tidy ending is a minor blemish in an otherwise openhearted, empathic book. Ages 8-12. Agent: Shannon Hassan, Marsal Lyon Literary. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Horn Book Review

Born without arms, Aven has always assumed that she was abandoned at birth because of her disability. When her loving adoptive family relocates to manage a struggling adventure park, mysterious clues beckon, leading her to solve a puzzle generations in the making. Aven navigates her unique situation with pluck, brains, and heart. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* A move to dusty, distant Arizona forces 13-year-old Aven to leave her familiar life and friends behind. Don't yawn: Bowling takes this overworked trope and spins it into gold with a skein of terrific twists. For one thing, Aven was born without arms, so the new environment a decrepit Wild West theme park poses special challenges. For another, thanks to loving, funny adoptive parents who have raised her to be a problem-solving ninja (I'm so flexible, it would blow your mind, she boasts), readers may repeatedly forget, despite reminders enough, that Aven is (as she puts it) unarmed. Moreover, when the dreary prospect of having to cope with the looks and questions at her new middle school sends her in search of an isolated place to eat her lunch, she finds and bonds with Conner, who is struggling with Tourette's syndrome and has not been so lucky with his parents. Not only does she firmly enlist him and another new friend in investigating a mystery about the theme park's past but, taking Conner's involuntary vocalizations in stride (literally), Aven drags him (figuratively) into an information-rich Tourette's support group. Following poignant revelations about Aven's birth family, the author lets warm but not gooey sentiment wash over the close to a tale that is not about having differences, but accepting them in oneself and others.--Peters, John Copyright 2017 Booklist


School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Aven Green has always loved her life in Kansas-hanging out with Emily and Kayla, her best friends since kindergarten; planning pranks; and playing on the school soccer team. Though Aven was born without arms, she has never let her "lack of armage," as she calls it, deter her from doing anything she sets her mind to. But when her father gets a job as the manager of Stagecoach Pass, a rundown Western theme park out in Arizona, the family's move, right after Aven has started eighth grade, presents her toughest challenge yet. Having to deal with the many stares and questions of new schoolmates, Aven sorely misses her old life back in Kansas. However, her unflinchingly optimistic spirit, accompanied by her infectious and indomitable sense of humor, keeps her looking for the silver linings in her new life in Arizona, such as making friends with the cute but prickly Connor (who has Tourette's syndrome) or enjoying the ability to wear flats all year-round. But the most fascinating thing is the unusual mystery at the heart of Stagecoach Pass: the disappearing tarantulas, a missing photograph, and a secret necklace. Aven is determined to get to the bottom of the secret. She is a perky, hilarious, and inspiring protagonist whose attitude and humor will linger even after the last page has turned. The tale of Stagecoach Pass is just as compelling as the story of Aven, and the setting, like the many colorful characters who people this novel, is so vivid and quirky that it's practically cinematic. VERDICT Charming and memorable. An excellent choice for middle grade collections and classrooms.-Evelyn Khoo Schwartz, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

Born without arms, white "problem-solving ninja" Aven Green can do almost anything with her feet insteadeven solve a mystery. "Now that I'm thirteen years old, I don't need much help with anything. True story." Aven's adoptive parents have always encouraged her independence. She's never felt self-conscious among her friends in Kansas, playing soccer and guitar and mischievously spinning wild yarns about losing her arms. But when her father suddenly gets a job managing Stagecoach Pass, a run-down theme park in Arizona, tales of alligator wrestling can't stop her new classmates' gawking. Making friends with Connor, a self-conscious white boy with Tourette's syndrome, and Zion, a shy, overweight, black boy, allows her to blend in between them. Contrasted with the boys' shyness, Aven's tough love and occasional insensitivity provide a glimpse of howand whyattitudes toward disability can vary. While investigating the park's suspiciously absent owner, the kids discover clues with eerie ties to Aven. The mystery's twist ending is somewhat fairy-tale-esque, but Connor's Tourette's support-group meetings and Aven's witty, increasingly honest discussions of the pros and cons of "lack of armage" give the book excellent educational potential. Though much of this earnest effort reads like an after-school special, its portrayal of characters with rarely depicted disabilities is informative, funny, and supportive. (Fiction. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.