Monday, August 3, 2020

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday # MMGM Book Review: Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling


Aven Green has gone to school with the same kids her whole life. It’s been a long time since she’s had to answer people’s questions about her lack of arms. Back when she started kindergarten she had to answer all kinds of crazy questions from other kids about not having arms. She got tired of answering questions, and started making up wild tales. The other kids loved her sense of humor and great imagination. Plus, Aven is a star on the soccer field, even if she thinks not having arms actually gives her an advantage. But, when her parents tell her they are going to be running an old rundown western village called Stagecoach Pass in Arizona, Aven is concerned. She will be moving across the country and going to middle school with all new kids. She knows there will be lots of questions.  Starting her new school brings a lot of changes. For the first time, Aven is afraid to eat in front of other kids, who she knows will watch her to see how she does it. Hiding out in the library leads her to meet Connor, a boy with Toruette’s who barks frequently and feels uncomfortable in front of others. Connor and Aven have an instant connection. He’s impressed with Aven’s attitude and can’t resist her smart and sassy sense of humor. When her days are tough she visits a tall cactus on a hill near her house and thinks about how the cactus doesn’t care about the events in her life, and this helps her feel better. One day she finds a necklace buried in the sand and it turns out there are other secrets hidden at Stagecoach Pass and Aven and her family are in for some big surprises. Will her family be able to make Stagecoach Pass a success? Will Connor and Aven get the courage they need to face their fears? Will Aven ever feel like she fits in at her new school? Are there any more friends in store for Aven? You will have to read this amazing story to find out.  

I've had The Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusty Bowling on my TBR list for a while. I don’t remember exactly where I heard about it, but I am so glad I did! What a book! I really enjoyed Aven and her go-getter attitude. She really brings out the best in other people. Her parents were amazing, and I loved hearing the story of her adoption and how they felt about raising her to be so independent. The friendships in the story were awesome and very believable. I really learned a lot about Tourette’s, Arizona, and what it would be like owning a tourist attraction. The portrayal of middle school is so realistic. It’s definitely not an easy time in most people’s lives, and Aven had more challenges with her move and needing to get to know all new kids. I highly recommend this book to anyone in fifth grade and up (Aven is in middle school). This was one of my favorite books of 2020, and Aven is a character that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. I found out there is a sequel about Aven in high school, and I look forward to being able to read that book when it comes in at my local library.

Has anyone else read The Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus? Or have you read another book by Dusty Bowling? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Reading!

~ L

For other MMGM posts, please visit Greg Pattridge's blog.

38 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great book. Kids with handicaps always have a hard time at school. I taught at a school for children with special needs, and always admired their attitude to life. Hugs, Valerie

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    1. Valerie- I really loved this book! Aven and friends are amazing. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. :) ~L

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  2. I haven't read it and it sounds awesome. A big hooray for people with disabilties being portrayed as independent.

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    1. EC- I couldn't agree more and I highly recommend this one! :) ~L

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  3. No arms and Tourette’s are both things I've never seen in a kids' book. It sounds like the author found a great way to tackle those issues.

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    1. L. Diane Wolfe- The characters will really hit home with a lot of kids- and they are just awesome. One of my favorite books this year for sure. :) ~L

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  4. This sounds like a great book! Like some of the other commenters, I've seen very few books depicting characters with physical differences (although I did actually review one today!), and I've never seen a book with a person with Tourette's. Thanks for the great review!

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    1. Completely Full Bookshelf- I hope you get to read this one soon. It really is amazing and the characters stick with you long after you put the book down. I just finished the sequel and loved it too. :) ~L

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  5. Read this one and loved it and also thought her next one was good—24 Hours in Nowhere. She does a great job of making characters appealing. Thanks for giving ...Cactus more lovee on MMGM!

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    1. Greg- Love that you enjoyed this one too. I just read the sequel and loved it too (though the characters are in high school- so a little older). I will have to read 24 Hours in Nowhere. Adding it to my list now. :) ~L

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  6. This book is the type of book I love to share with readers. I love the focus on abilities. Will check it out!

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    1. Patricia- I hope you love it as much as I do. I also highly recommend the audio version if you like to listen to books. :) ~L

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  7. I've heard about it but not read it. It sound like a great story about disabilities and adoption. I'm going to look for it at my library. Thanks.

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    1. Natalie- It really is a great read. It addresses a lot of things and a lot of kids will be able to relate to the characters for sure. Happy reading! :) ~L

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  8. It sounds like a good story with great themes portrayed with overcoming handicaps etc. I will look and see if our library has it. Sounds like a good read!

    Betty

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    1. Betty- I hope they have it and you can read it. Such a fantastic story! :) ~L

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  9. This sounds an excellent book. It seems the author has found a very good way to tackle those who have disability issues. I must see if I can find a copy in the library.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Jan- The book is very well written and the characters are fantastic. I hope you can find a copy to read. :) ~L

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  10. Sounds like a good one. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. The Armchair Squid- You're welcome! :) ~L

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  11. Thanks for your enjoyable review of this book. I read this a while ago because I lived in Arizona for four years and I just love the desert. Turns out, I also really like the book.

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    1. Randomly Reading- I love to read books about places I have lived! Glad you love the desert and the book. :) ~L

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  12. I like the idea of the characters owning a tourist attraction... an old rundown western village called Stagecoach Pass? Yes, please!

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    1. Maria- I thought that was fun too! :) ~L

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  13. I have had this on my TBR list for a looong time. I just moved it to the top because of your review. It sounds terrific. And I do love the title.

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    1. Rosi- I can't wait to hear your thoughts. I think you will love it! :) ~L

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  14. Sounds like a great story, very interesting ! Now I am reading one of Doris Lessing books, have a lovely day!

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    1. Natalia- I hope you are enjoying your book as much as I loved this one. :) ~L

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  15. I feel like another blogger I know was talking about this one recently, but I didn't really know what it was about. It sounds fantastic though! I love a good MG novel. Glad to hear you really loved this.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. Lauren- It is really a fantastic read! Glad I could fill you in on what it is about. :) ~L

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  16. I haven't read this, but I'm in love with the title and the location. Will have to add it to that TBR list! Thanks.

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  17. Sounds like a good book. I haven't seen any with a protagonist missing limbs. Nice to see that!

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    1. Sherry- This is the first I can think of too! It is an awesome story! :) ~L

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  18. I haven't read it but it sounds good.

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  19. what special and lovely are cactus, my daugther love them and collect, dont let me touch them, is curious ! xo

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    1. Gloria- It does hurt if we touch a cactus- I learned the hard way. :) ~L

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