Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
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Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

4.33 (3,690 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Aven Green was born without arms - and by age 13 has learned how to do almost everything without them. Hiding out in the library, she meets Connor, a boy with Tourette's syndrome. Together, they begin exploring the park, where they find themselves wrapped up in the mysterious disappearance of the owner - and the park's tarantula population. Aven's about to find out just what she's capable of... even without arms.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 130 x 193 x 22.86mm | 390.09g
  • STERLING
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1454923458
  • 9781454923459
  • 68,114

Review quote

Awards include:
Autumn 2017 Indie Next Pick
Junior Library Guild Selection
Reading the West Award Winner
Library of Congress's 52 Great Reads List 2018
Youth One Book, One Denver 2018
Chicago Public Library "Best of the Best" 2017
Evanston Public Library Best of 2017
Austin Public Library Best Tween Fiction 2017
Multnomah County Library Best Books of 2017
Southwest Books of the Year "Best of the Best" 2017
The Children's Book Review Best Kids Books of 2017 for Tweens and Preteens
Booksource Top 40 Classroom Library Titles of 2017

"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." --School Library Journal (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." --Booklist (starred review)

"Dusti Bowling's story of a regular, hugely likable kid who deals with her unusual challenges with grace and humor is pitch-perfect." --Shelf Awareness (starred review)

"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. . . . its portrayal of characters with rarely depicted disabilities is informative, funny, and supportive." --Kirkus

"Bowling's sensitive and funny 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. . . . [an] openhearted, empathic book. --Publishers Weekly

"Aven Green didn't really lose her arms in a wrestling match, but when her parents move the family halfway across the country to manage a run-down theme park, she'd rather tell them tall tales than the truth--she was born without them. It's not until she meets a new friend with another kind of disability that she learns to accept people's differences, including her own. Really funny, fun read." --Slate


"A remarkable, original story with true heart, a fresh voice, and an absolutely unforgettable hero. It's a book sure to give any reader goosebumps, teary eyes, and out-loud laughs. It's a book that doesn't just open your eyes, it opens your heart." --Dan Gemeinhart, author of The Honest Truth
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About Dusti Bowling

Dusti Bowling holds a Bachelor of Psychology and a Master of Education, but she soon realised that her true passion was writing. The Day We Met, her self-published novel for young adults, has sold over 20,000 copies.
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Rating details

3,690 ratings
4.33 out of 5 stars
5 49% (1,793)
4 38% (1,416)
3 11% (409)
2 1% (52)
1 1% (20)
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