Put This On Your Must Read List

Summary:

It took a while, but Aven Green (14) feels like she has adjusted to life in Stagecoach Pass. Except, time moves on and high school is about to begin. As far as Aven is concerned, one of the worst things (besides 2,300 new kids to stare at her) is that she will never be able to go to school dances. She can't do the Y-M-C-A because she was born with no arms.

When the very popular Joshua Baker starts paying attention to Aven, her BFF Zion tells her to steer clear of this bully. Thinking positive, Aven assures Zion that people can change. She learns the hard way that Joshua isn't one of them.  She is beyond humiliated and pushing away her parents and friends. Just when she has committed herself to being a hermit, other doors are there to open. Will they help Aven restore her confidence and repair her friendships?


Parent Perspective:
I cried, I feared, I got angry, I cheered. I hugged this book. Yes, it is that good. Aven's voice is unique and yet universal. As a reader, I appreciated her view of the world: good, bad, and ugly. Unless she reminded me, I didn't see a "girl with no arms."

What I love most is that despite being the narrator, the story is well-rounded and realistic. There are the friendships with Trilby and Connor; her natural place in the Hill family; her relationship with her biological grandmother Josephine; the compassion for Henry; and the natural give-and-take of the relationship with her adopted parents.

There are times when the story made me uncomfortable. And THAT is a good thing. Those moments pushed my comfort zone so that now it is bigger. Momentous Events is the second book in the Life of a Cactus series. It is excellent as a stand-alone, but it is so good I want to go back and read the first book.


Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Readers can't help but be inspired by this poignant, hopeful, and (at times) humorous story. Aven may live in a Western theme park, but her high school experiences and self-talk are universal. This is a book for every preteen, not just girls.

Content Awareness Factors:

None.


Type of Book:
This is the second book in a middle grade series about a girl born with no arms.
Educational Themes:

Set aside talk about navigating high school to discuss broader themes of supporting physically disabled people, trust, and personal ethics. The character relationships also create natural discussions, and can parse different types of relationships. Here are a few starter questions:

  • Henry is very special to Aven. Why? Do you think she had the right to collect his DNA and search for family without his permission?
  • Aven is very upset at Zion for breaking a promise and telling his brother about Joshua. Then Aven breaks a promise and goes to the football coach. Does your reader see that as the same kind of thing?
  • Do you think Aven has completely closed the book on searching for her own biological father?

 

Reading Level:
4.6
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
10 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
10 and Up
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy the series. Aven is a friend that kids can visit when they're having a bad day.
book cover

Title Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus
About

Life of a Cactus, Book 2

Author Dusti Bowling
Publisher Sterling Children's Books, Imprint Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. © 2019
ISBN 9781454933298
Material Hard Cover
Cost $16.95
Genres Family - Adoption, Friendship, Coming Of Age, Specially Abled | Special Needs
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